France creates $140m fund for Ukraine to buy arms

French President Emmanuel Macron was speaking to reporters at the end of a European Union summit in Prague. PHOTO: AFP

PRAGUE – France has created a fund, initially worth €100 million (S$140 million), for Ukraine to directly buy weapons and other material it needs in its war against invading Russia, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.

“We are setting up this special, dedicated fund initially with 100 million euros to allow the acquisition of equipment that we have already delivered and that we will continue to do so in terms of weapons, meaning defensive ones,” Macron said after an EU summit in Prague.

He added that discussions were being held, particularly with Denmark, to deliver more highly accurate Caesar truck-mounted cannons to Ukraine, on top of the 18 France has already given.

“France has been giving military support to Ukraine from the first day, with anti-tank and individual anti-aircraft systems,” Macron said.

The new fund, he said, “will allow... to also work with France’s defence industry base” and “demonstrates our will to act as Europeans and to align ourselves with this collective effort” helping Ukraine.

The fund would significantly boost the military support France is showing Ukraine, from the €233 million committed so far, which is a fraction of what some other allies have allocated.

The United States is the biggest military supplier to Ukraine, to the tune of the equivalent of €25 billion, while Britain has given some €4 billion  worth of weapons and gear, and Poland €1.8 billion  worth.

Publicly-known shipments that France has so far made include anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, armoured personnel carriers, fuel, infantry gear and towed artillery cannons – as well as the 18 prized Caesars.

The discussions with Denmark would be to see about diverting some Caesar units Copenhagen had ordered from France.

Several high-ranking French officers have said that, although Paris has boosted military spending in recent years, set to reach €44 billion in 2023, its stocks of equipment remain limited.

Modern weapons like high-precision artillery pieces and missiles can take years to roll off production lines, especially with disruption to supply chains affecting certain parts and raw materials. AFP

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