France will send military trainers to Ukraine in a few days

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron as they arrive to take part in a bilateral meeting during the European Political Community summit in Granada, Spain, on October 5, 2023. France could send instructors to Ukraine to train the military in a matter of days, according to reports. LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

According to reports, France could send instructors to Ukraine to train its military in a matter of days.

The development was reported Thursday by French newspaper Le Monde, citing sources familiar with the matter. This came days after Ukraine’s top commander, General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said he had signed paperwork permitting France to send military instructors to his country to train Ukrainian forces “and familiarize themselves with their infrastructure and personnel.”

France, alongside Ukraine’s other NATO allies, has trained more than 100,000 troops since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022, doing so within the European Union. Shortly after Syrskyi’s announcement, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry issued a “clarification” saying Kyiv was “still in discussions with France and other countries on this.”

According to Le Monde’s sources, Ukraine was forced to tone down its comments on the possible deployment of French instructors to the war-torn country. Discussions on the matter should accelerate in the coming days, they said, and an announcement could be made during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to France next week.

France would initially send a few dozen personnel “in order to identify training needs” before deploying several hundred more, the sources said.

Reuters also reported Thursday that France could soon send military trainers to Ukraine, citing three diplomatic sources who said the training would focus on demining, ensuring that equipment stays operational and technical expertise for warplanes, to be provided by Ukraine’s Western allies.

“The arrangements are very advanced, and we could expect something next week,” one source said.

French President Emmanuel Macron doubled down in March on the possibility of sending ground troops into Ukraine. In late February, he suggested that NATO members could send in such troops, saying, “We cannot exclude options” because “the security of Europe and the security of the French people is at stake here.”

Macron has said there are “no limits” to France’s support for Kyiv.

Other NATO members, including the U.S. and Germany, have ruled out sending ground troops to Ukraine. In March, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said President Joe Biden has “made it clear that we will not put U.S. boots on the ground.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in February that “Russia won’t let anyone interfere in its internal affairs” and that his country’s “strategic nuclear forces are in a state of full readiness.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on May 8 that French troops will be targeted by Russian forces if they “appear in the conflict zone [in Ukraine].”

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