France to send military instructors to Ukraine

Instructors from France will arrive in Ukraine to train Ukrainian soldiers.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, made this announcement following a video meeting with Sebastian Lecornu, the Minister of the French Armed Forces.

“I appreciate France’s initiative to send instructors to Ukraine to train Ukrainian soldiers.” I have already signed documents that will allow the first French instructors to visit our training centers and familiarize themselves with their infrastructure and personnel,” Gen. Syrskyi said.

He thanked the French Minister for the friendly support of the French people as well as military and economic assistance to Ukraine.

Later, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces confirmed that they were indeed studying the issue of sending French military instructors to Ukraine, but they did not confirm the completion of an agreement.

“At the end of the video meeting between the French and Ukrainian defense ministers, the Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army thanked France for sending instructors to his country. He also noted that this issue was only being discussed. Paris, for its part, did not deny what was said,” Le Monde reported.

The French media outlet emphasized that the very sensitive discussions between Paris and Kyiv about the possibility of sending French military instructors to Ukraine, which began several months ago, led to several contradictory statements from the top leadership of the Ukrainian military hierarchy on Monday, May 27, as well as to uncertainty, which the French side skillfully maintains.

The press service of French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu repeated the official position outlined by President Emmanuel Macron back in February. It was said that under certain circumstances and in the presence of an official request from the Ukrainian leadership, the deployment of a French military contingent “cannot be ruled out.”

Lecornu’s office emphasized that “training on Ukrainian soil is one of the topics discussed after the conference in support of Ukraine (…) held on February 26. We continue to work on this together with the Ukrainians.”.

Le Monde reminds us that the talks between the two ministers take place at a time when the Ukrainian army in the East is going through a difficult time. The debate about the possible deployment of military instructors coincides with another one about the right of Ukrainians to shoot at Russian military targets on Russian territory.

“It’s time to reconsider some of these restrictions,” the newspaper quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying. The head of the North Atlantic Alliance expressed a similar position in an interview with The Economist on May 24.

The other day, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said he was ready to send troops to Ukraine if France leads a coalition of like-minded countries. “Lithuania is ready to join the coalition led by France,” he said on the French TV channel LCI on May 20.

“We could send the instructors back to Ukraine, the instructors who were already there, and I would say, I’m telling you that Lithuania is ready to join a coalition led by France, for example, that would do the training of soldiers in Ukraine,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister stated.

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