France to give Ukraine more cruise missiles, plans security pact

PARIS — France will supply Ukraine with about 40 more Scalp-EG cruise missiles and hundreds of bombs in coming

France to give Ukraine more cruise missiles, plans security pact

PARIS — France will supply Ukraine with about 40 more Scalp-EG cruise missiles and hundreds of bombs in coming weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a press conference Tuesday evening.

The French defense industry is also working within the framework of a “war economy” to boost production and supplies of equipment to Ukraine, in particular 155mm Caesar howitzers, the president said.

Macron turned to international issues more than two hours into a sprawling press conference in Paris, calling the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine the biggest risk to the security of Europe. He said France is finalizing a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine similar to the one concluded by the U.K. last week.

“We will basically continue to help Ukraine in its needs – for training, to hold on to the front, and to defend its skies,” Macron said. “With the deliveries I mentioned, with the agreements we’re finalizing.”

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed an agreement on security cooperation in Kyiv on Jan. 12, committing the U.K. to consulting with Ukraine in the event the country is attacked by Russia ever again, and to provide “swift and sustained” assistance for defense. The U.K. also announced military funding of 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) for Ukraine in the 2024-2025 financial year.

Macron plans to visit Ukraine in February, by which time he said deliveries of munitions will have started, as France hands over equipment “almost in real time” with announcements.

France received its first Scalp from missile maker MBDA in 2003, and a senate report that year put the cost for a single missile at €860,000. The French started a midlife upgrade in 2016 to keep Scalp operationally effective until at least 2030.

French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecorne is scheduled to host his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov in France on Thursday, with visits to the KNDS site in Bourges, where the company builds the truck-mounted Caesar howitzer, and MBDA’s production site of Scalp missiles in Selles-Saint-Denis.

France ranks behind Germany and the U.K. in value of military aid provided to Ukraine between January 2022 to October 2023, as well as behind smaller countries including Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, according to data tracked by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. At the same time, some of the equipment supplied by France expanded the long-range fire capabilities sought by Ukraine, including the Caesar cannons and Scalp missiles.

Macron said the world has become unstable, defined by the tension between China and the U.S., which risks upsetting Europe. He repeated calls for a more sovereign Europe that is an ally of the U.S. “but which doesn’t depend on it,” and which can be a hub of stability.

Russia cannot be allowed to win in Ukraine, because that would implicate the security of Europe and all of Russia’s neighbors, the president said.

“We will very clearly, us French and us Europeans, have new decisions to take in the weeks and months to come, precisely not to let Russia win.”

Macron said increased military investment now needs to be complemented by developing European defense, more common programs and investments, standardization of major European industrial programs and a closer military culture with partners.

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

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