French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday that France has extended an invitation to train Ukrainian fighter pilots, but ruled out deploying warplanes to Kyiv. The move signals France’s support for Ukraine but stops short of fulfilling Ukraine’s persistent request for advanced fighter jets, such as the US-designed F-16.
Macron made the announcement after a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris, his second visit since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. “We have opened the door to training pilots, along with several other European countries who are also prepared. Discussions are ongoing with the Americans,” Macron stated during a televised interview with TF1 broadcaster. He did not provide specific details but mentioned that training could begin immediately.
Ukraine has been preparing to reclaim territory seized by Russia and has sought military assistance to enhance the readiness of its troops. Macron’s announcement comes as a boost to Ukraine’s military capability, as it seeks to counter Russian aggression.
However, Macron’s announcement falls short of Ukraine’s persistent appeal for advanced fighter jets, as NATO members have refrained from supplying warplanes to Kyiv. Earlier this year, a French official associated with the air force command suggested that France could potentially provide 13 retired Mirage 2000-C fighters, but the timeframe required to train Ukrainian pilots on these aircraft would likely be prohibitive.
During Zelensky’s visit, the joint statement issued by Macron and Zelensky read, “In the upcoming weeks, France will provide training and equipment to multiple battalions, including tens of armored vehicles and light tanks such as the AMX-10RC.” Macron refrained from disclosing further specifics during the TF1 interview but did mention that France had decided to supply additional ammunition and provide assistance in training troops, and repairing vehicles, and cannons.
“France maintains its position of supporting Ukraine’s resistance. Much is at stake, as the success of this counter-offensive will be pivotal in establishing enduring peace,” Macron emphasized.