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France to Supply Ukraine with Mirage 2000 Jets: Macron

7 Jun 2024 09:13

Islam Times - French President Emmanuel Macron has announced France's decision to provide Ukraine with Mirage 2000 fighter jets and train Ukrainian pilots, though the specifics of the quantity and delivery timeline remain undisclosed.

"Tomorrow we will launch a new cooperation and announce the transfer of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine, made by French manufacturer Dassault, and train their Ukrainian pilots in France," Macron told France's TF1 broadcaster on Thursday.

Kiev has long requested Mirage 2000 warplanes alongside US-made F-16 fighters. In a social media post in January, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force stated that these jets—comparable to the F-16 but more maneuverable—could "increase the combat potential" of Ukraine’s Soviet-era fleet.

France has around 26 Mirage 2000-5 and 65 older Mirage 2000-D aircraft in active service, according to Flight International’s World Air Forces rankings. It is unclear whether Macron plans to use the French Air Force's active fleet or recommission out-of-service jets for Kiev.

Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway have pledged to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighters, although none have been delivered yet. Last month, Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky announced that Belgium would provide 30 1980s-built F-16s, bringing the total number pledged to 85.

Initially, Macron was cautious about sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, warning other NATO members of potential escalation. However, he has since become one of the most pro-interventionist NATO leaders, declaring earlier this year that sending Western ground troops into combat against Russia "could not be ruled out."

Ukrainian army chief Aleksandr Syrsky said last week that French military instructors would soon be deployed in Ukraine. While the Ukrainian defense ministry quickly retracted these claims, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said that the question of sending French instructors was "not taboo."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that there are "numerous facts" indicating French instructors are already in Ukraine, warning that these operatives are a "legitimate target" for Russia’s armed forces.

Macron told TF1 that he is not worried about escalating the conflict. The French president also announced support for the formation of a 4,500-strong brigade of French-trained and equipped Ukrainian soldiers, reiterating that Ukraine can use French missiles for long-range strikes on Russian soil.

"We stand with the Ukrainians. Ukraine is allowed to strike targets where missiles have been fired [from]," Macron told the network, adding, "we forbid hitting civilians with our weapons."

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow would consider arming the enemies of Western nations that supply Ukraine with strike capabilities. "This is a recipe for very serious problems," he warned.

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