French President, Emmanuel Macron delays sending military instructors to Ukraine.(Photo by Christopher Neundorf - Pool/Getty Images)


French President delays sending military instructors to Ukraine


French President Emmanuel Macron has delayed sending military instructors to Ukraine but announced further military aid.

On June 6, he indicated that sending French military instructors to Ukraine was not on “today’s agenda” but added that the question was not ”taboo”.

Macron said France supported the plan for a European coalition of military instructors to train Ukrainian troops within Ukraine.

“We are working with our partners,” he said.

According to the President, any future presence of French military instructors in Western Ukraine would not constitute an “escalation” of the conflict. Paris would only be answering the Ukrainians’ request in the face of Russian aggression, he added.

On May 27, Ukraine’s top commander announced papers had been signed allowing French military instructors to visit Ukrainian training centres.

Macron also announced he would deliver French Mirage-2000s fighter aircraft to the country, “enabling Ukraine to protect its skies”.

“We are set to launch a pilot training programme so that by the end of the year, there will be both pilots and the new aircraft,” he added.

According to Macron, instructors will start training Ukrainian pilots “as early as this summer”, indicating that would take place in France.

In addition, he said: “Our wish is to form a brigade. We propose to train 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers, equip them and train them.”

The President acknowledged the latest moves were a step forward in providing military aid to Ukraine but he was adamant that France was not taking part in the hostilities.

“We are helping the Ukrainians to resist but we are not at war with Russia and its people.”

Despite Macron’s attempt to defuse what might be seen by some as an escalation of the conflict, there are growing tensions between Moscow and Paris.

Alexander Makogonov, spokesman for the Russian Embassy in France, warned on June 4 that France’s military aid to Ukraine only “serves to continue the conflict and rule out a diplomatic solution”.

Russia’s head of diplomacy Sergei Lavrov did not rule out targeting French instructors should they be deployed in Ukraine.

On June 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to deliver weapons to third countries that could hit Western interests if the West allowed Ukraine to strike Russia with its long-range missiles.