Why does France hesitate to send Leclerc tanks to Ukraine? News. Last Minute GERMANY, Berlin, France, Netherlands, England, Russia headlines and events



After the UK announced that it would send the heavy armored Challenger tank to Ukraine, the German company Leopard, the United States and Canada also gave the go-ahead for the supply of Abrams heavy armored vehicles to Ukraine. Only France was missing from the list of allies supplying tanks to Ukraine. France, the manufacturer of Leclerc tanks, is still hesitant to send tanks to Ukraine. Why does France hesitate? Will the US follow the same path as Germany, Britain and Canada and send tanks to Ukraine?

The first statement about heavy tanks, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted on from his Western allies, came from the UK. When Britain announced that it was ready to hand over the Challenger tanks to Kyiv, the eyes were turned to Germany, the manufacturer of the Leopard tanks, of which there are more than 2,000 units in Europe. The Berlin government for a long time did not dare to supply tanks directly to Germany.

After weeks of pressure, Prime Minister Olaf Scholz was convinced, after receiving assurances from the Washington administration, that “they will not be the only country to supply tanks by land.” As soon as the German knot was untied, Germany and the United States on the same day issued a statement that heavy tanks would be delivered to Ukraine in the near future. Berlin gave the go-ahead for the supply of 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks, and Washington promised Kyiv 31 Abrams tanks. Canada announced this morning that it will transfer 4 Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

After these announcements, attention turned to the tank manufacturer Leclerc in France. However, France has not yet decided to send tanks directly to Ukraine. Prime Minister Elisabeth Born, answering questions about this in Parliament, said: “The French government has not yet decided to send its own Leclerc heavy tanks, we are continuing the analysis with the Minister of Defense.” will supply “AMX-10 RC light battle tanks”, it followed Germany’s tactics of transferring Leopard tanks. However, France is still hesitant to supply Leclerc tanks directly.

German-made Leopard tanks are equipped with 22 armies, 15 of which are in Europe, a total of about 2,000 vehicles. This number is considered the only system that can be provided sufficiently and relatively quickly to ensure maximum effectiveness on the battlefield. For this reason, the most practical solution for emergency armored assistance to Ukraine is the German Leopard tanks.

Why does France hesitate?

Emmanuel Macron has set three conditions for the possible delivery of Leclerc tanks to Ukraine. The first of these conditions was that it should not “aggravate the war” against Russia. On this first point, sources at the Elysee Palace state that they no longer think that the delivery of heavy tanks will increase Moscow’s anger, and that there will be no fears, such as participation in the war, “unless they are used on Russian soil.” The other two conditions, Macron explained, are that “this aid does not weaken the defense capability of France” and “Providing real and effective support to the Ukrainians.” The second important condition is that the French army has a small amount of armored vehicles. for their own defense. While the army had about 400 Leclercs in the early 2000s, successive budget cuts led to a significant reduction in France’s tank fleet.

If the French army surrenders its few tanks to Ukraine, it risks weakening its own defensive capabilities. The French fleet of heavy armored vehicles has been reduced to 226 units, and Paris has no urgent reconstruction project.

Speaking to France Info radio, defense and geopolitics expert at Themiis Training Institute, former Navy Colonel Père de Jong, described the army’s tank stocks as “only 222 of the 1,500 heavy tanks that the French army had 20-30 years ago, since 1990 and the decline in defense budgets “on the left,” he explains.

Noting that two questions came to the fore here, Per de Jong said: “Firstly, how many tanks are needed for armored vehicles to be effective in Ukraine? work? Even if we give a hundred armored vehicles, this is not enough. We need hundreds. Need a few. “A dozen tanks are not enough to change the balance of power on the field,” he said.

After listening carefully to the concerns of the French armed forces, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu on Wednesday recalled one of the key principles of these deliveries: “The delivery must weaken our defense system. This further complicates delivery, as Nexter has not produced Leclerc since 2008. We do not have the ability to replace each delivered tank with a new one,” he said.

Maintenance complexity

In addition, the multiplication of supplies of various Western tanks is not as beneficial to Ukraine as it seems. Because although French, German, British and even American models have similarities, they do not have exactly the same characteristics. In addition to refueling, modern tanks require significant logistical support. Therefore, President Zelensky and the Ukrainian army favor the Leopard in their demands. The more of the same model in their fleet, the easier it will be for them to use it in the field.

A military source told Le Monde: “The Leopard tanks are the most numerous tank model that Ukraine can get. That’s why it was important for Germany to give the green light.” to get the most tanks, these are Leopard tanks. There are Leopard tanks in many European countries, especially in Poland, Holland, Finland. Unlike Leopards, in Europe the only country equipped with Leclercs is France.

Will France decide on the delivery?

Foreign Minister Kateryna Kolonna traveled to Odessa on Thursday “to assess urgent military and civilian needs” with the Ukrainian minister. According to information received from Elysee sources, this issue was raised in a telephone conversation between Macron and Zelensky on Tuesday, January 24. “French and Ukrainian experts are debating precisely about the assessment of the cost-benefit ratio of such a delivery,” diplomatic sources reject the possibility of a quick delivery.

Finally, it is necessary to evaluate the cost-benefit ratio of such a supply and ensure that these vehicles provide real and effective support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, these tanks require significant logistical support, which can greatly increase the bill. It is argued that the difference between these tanks, which look similar in appearance but do not have the same characteristics, will make their “operation” extremely difficult for Ukraine.

Experts call such confusion “a real headache for logistics and mechanics” and cite Russian tanks as an example, which were abandoned with such difficulties at the beginning of the war. In addition to use, the Leopard tanks stand out as the “most massive and fastest delivery” model among the 4 tanks in terms of service and spare parts.

Elysee diplomats also point out that Zelenskiy “didn’t pronounce” the Leclerc tank for reasons such as logistics, maintenance and inventory.

Opposition parties are another challenge for the French government. Opposition parties with a group in the Assembly said: “You cannot make such a decision without discussing it in the Assembly. This decision must be made by the parliament, taking into account strategic and conscious military information, the president cannot make this decision alone,” he warned the government.

Franco-German political tactics

In fact, the Leclerc controversy was purely political from the start. The discussion of the delivery of French heavy tanks to Ukraine was primarily aimed at mobilizing the Germans, who were the most indecisive of all Westerners. Germany did not want to go to the front alone, even by proxy, because of the objections of its history and political parties. The announcement in early January of the upcoming delivery of AMX light battle tanks by France was a statement about the lifting of the self-isolation regime in Germany, but this was not enough.

The diplomat, in an interview with the Le Figaro newspaper, said that Berlin perceived this as “a new communication blow from Paris”, and said: “Ukrainians were waiting for the Leopards. We were ready to shoot down 12 Leclercs to help the Germans make their decision. But it didn’t work because the Germans demanded an American guarantee. “After meeting with President Biden, the issue was resolved,” he said.

This attitude was reported in the French media: “Thus, the strained relationship of the French-German couple was exposed once again. Berlin chose the United States over France, even for the supply of heavy tanks.

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