France is stepping up its support to Ukraine by setting up industrial partnerships between the two countries.
“By definition, a counter-offensive on a 1,200-kilometer (746-mile) front takes time, so we need patience, confidence and endurance,” defense minister Sebastien Lecornu told journalists during a visit in Kyiv on Thursday.
Lecornu was heading a delegation of lawmakers and business leaders from various combat industries, ranging from drones, robots linked to drones, artillery, munitions and artificial intelligence.
The French minister met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as the country’s new defense minister Rustem Umerov.
Lecornu said France would “offer innovative solutions to the Ukrainian army and increasingly be in a position to make fewer transfers, but rather direct acquisitions, sometimes under French subsidy, for the Ukrainian army.”
“It’s a way for us to maintain our position over the long term and establish French interests in Kyiv on a long-term basis,” Lecornu added.
Speaking separately to French public radio France Info, Lecornu said that “as the war is going to last, the transfer of equipment from the French armed forces – but not only the French – has, by definition, its limits.”
The defense minister said France was “going to withdraw a lot of old equipment from the French army in favor of much newer equipment, which we’ll be able to give to Ukraine.”
“Nevertheless, if we want to last,” the minister said, “we need to be able to ‘connect’ French manufacturers directly with the Ukrainian army.”
“So these are also opportunities for French industries. I’m sorry to say it like that, but we have to recognize that too,” he told France Info.