France wants to deliver "light battle tanks" to Ukraine. The French head of state Emmanuel Macron promised his Ukrainian colleague Volodymyr Zelenskyj that, the Élysée Palace announced on Wednesday after a phone call between the two presidents.
The tank is said to be the AMX-10 RC scout tank. The wheeled tank with a large cannon is primarily used for reconnaissance. How many tanks France wants to hand over to Ukraine and by when was initially unclear. The Élysée Palace said these were the first western-style main battle tanks to be delivered to the Ukrainian armed forces.
"Until victory, until peace returns to Europe, our support for Ukraine will not diminish," Macron wrote in the evening. Zelenskyj thanked Macron on Twitter for the decision. It was also decided to continue working together, for example to strengthen Ukraine's air defenses.
France wanted to announce more details about the tank deliveries to Ukraine later. Paris has so far delivered 18 Caesar howitzers and Milan anti-tank missiles to Kyiv.
Ukraine has also received Western-style tanks, but these tended to be troop carriers like the US M113 model, a smaller tracked vehicle. Germany has also provided Ukraine with 30 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks. When considering the power of heavy weapons, for example, the German-made Panzerhaubitze 2000, a self-propelled artillery piece, outperforms the now promised French wheeled armored vehicle AMX-10 RC. Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, has not yet received a full-fledged Western main battle tank such as the French Leclerc model or the German Leopard.
Ukraine is always trying to get Western battle tanks and other weapon systems delivered, and has been demanding Leopard 2 tanks from Germany for months. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) does not want to deliver them alone and points out that no other country has provided similar weapon systems. From the ranks of his two smaller coalition partners, the Greens and FDP, there are repeated calls to send the Leopard 2 to Ukraine anyway. The largest opposition faction, the CDU/CSU, is also in favor of it.
The Chair of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), wrote on Twitter on Wednesday about the French announcement: "Once again, the other partner countries are going first. Now, in the spirit of Franco-German friendship, we can finally do it get started, right, @Bundeskanzler?" The ball is now in Berlin, she continued with a view to the possible delivery of battle tanks.
As part of a so-called ring exchange, Ukraine has already received Soviet-designed battle tanks, which are familiar to the Ukrainian military, from Eastern European countries, among others. When Ukrainian soldiers are handed over Western-style weapon systems, they usually first have to be trained in their use - which usually happens outside of Ukraine, including in Germany.