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France to force Ukraine to buy its weapons – minister

Kiev will have to purchase arms directly from French manufacturers, according to Sebastien Lecornu

France plans to stop sending weapons to Ukraine from its own arsenal and will instead allow Kiev to buy arms directly from the country’s manufacturers through a support fund, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu said on Sunday.

“We are now negotiating with our Ukrainian colleagues to prompt Ukraine to buy new howitzers using money from a special fund, and so that the French military will no longer have to transfer guns from their arsenals,” the official said in an interview with LCI broadcaster.

French military aid to Ukraine has reached €3.2 billion ($3.4 billion) thus far, according to a parliamentary report released last week, Lecornu noted. This amount has placed France among the leading European backers of the Ukrainian Army, alongside Germany and the UK.

Paris has also pledged an additional €200 million ($213 million) to Ukraine’s support fund to ensure the Ukrainian Army’s continued access to French military equipment, the official added. Kiev can spend money from the fund on arms purchases, but only from French contractors.

READ MORE: Western arms makers see revenues boom on Ukraine conflict

The move reflects France’s new strategy for procuring equipment for the Ukrainian Army, experts say. The French Ministry of Defense’s budget will surge by €3.5 billion next year, a 7.5% increase, reaching $50.4 billion in accordance with the new law on military programming for the years 2024-2030.

Since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, France has transferred a large amount of military equipment to Kiev, including 30 Caesar cannons, several dozen armored personnel carriers (VAB), and AMX-10 RC armored reconnaissance vehicles, as well as 15 155mm TRF1 howitzers, around 100 Mistral surface-to-air missiles, and two unitary rocket launchers.

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