Weapons grade: French Defence Secretary Sébastien Lecornu floated the idea of the requisitioning of arms companies to aid Ukraine's war effort. (Omar Havana/Getty Images)


The rise of the command economy: French defence minister ‘may force firms to make weapons for Ukraine’


French defence minister Sebastien Lecornu said he was prepared to use his powers to requisition industrial capacities or impose priorities to weapon makers to speed up production of arms and shells needed on the battlefield in Ukraine and elsewhere.

“These questions … are clearly on the table,” Lecornu told a news conference on March 26, adding stocks and production lines were particularly strained with regard to anti-air missiles and artillery shells.

Lecornu said he could requisition stocks or tell companies to give priority to certain orders, citing Aster missiles produced by MBDA as a potential case for such a move.

Foreign demand for French-produced arms was high, especially for anti-defence, artillery and radar systems exposed in Ukraine, Lecornu said, but the country’s defence industry is struggling to keep up.

“We have missed out on certain contracts with Eastern Europe countries for whom the criterion of delivery deadlines is more important than the price,” Lecornu said.

His statement came after EU leaders said on March 21 the bloc could use proceeds from frozen Russian assets to help Ukriane under a plan that includes buying arms for Kyiv.

Leaders of the bloc’s 27 Member States agreed at a summit in Brussels to move ahead with work on the plan, presented by the European Commission.

“I am confident that we can act very quickly,” said Charles Michel, President of the European Council.