France Considers Sending Military Trainers to Ukraine, Shaping Coalition

Russia has reopened a major front in its months-long war with Ukraine, launching a massive offensive in northeastern areas bordering Russia. The continuous strike intensifies the pressure on Ukraine’s already stretched forces, which are currently waiting for additional Western military support. Concerned over the situation, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that a coalition of countries has agreed to send military trainers to Ukraine. Speaking at a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Macron hinted that detailed plans for the deployment could materialize in the coming days, although he provided no specific details. This development signals a potential shift among France and its allies toward more direct involvement in supporting Ukraine, including the possibility of placing NATO troops on Ukrainian soil—a step previously considered too provocative by some, including the United States. Macron described Ukraine’s request for in-country training as “legitimate” and said that several countries have already consented to the initiative. Initially, France will send a small contingent to evaluate the mission’s logistics before deploying several hundred trainers. According to two diplomats, the training will focus on demining operations, maintaining equipment, and providing technical expertise for the Western-supplied aircraft. Additionally, France plans to finance, arm, and train a Ukrainian motorized brigade as part of this effort. These actions underscore a growing commitment from France and other international partners to support Ukraine amid escalating tensions and military engagements in the region. “The arrangements are very advanced and we could expect something next week,” said one of the sources. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is due in France on June 6, the 80th anniversary of D-day, when Allied soldiers landed in Normandy to drive out Nazi German forces during World War Two. He will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris the next day. Ukraine’s top commander said on Monday he had signed paperwork allowing French military instructors to visit Ukrainian training centers soon. France has trained about 10,000 Ukrainian troops since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, but has done so within the EU. The new mission would not be under EU or NATO auspices, the diplomats said. Speaking after a Franco-German cabinet meeting this week, Macron did not deny the possibility of sending instructors following the Ukrainian comments, saying that he did not comment on “rumours or decisions that could come.” France’s defence ministry said training on Ukrainian soil was among subjects that had been discussed since February. “Like all the projects discussed at that time, this track continues to be the subject of work with the Ukrainians, in particular to understand their exact needs,” it said. Baltic states have in the past indicated they could join France in such a project. “Lithuania is ready to join a coalition led by France for example which would train soldiers in Ukraine,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told France’s LCI television on May 20. EU defence ministers on Tuesday debated the idea of training Ukrainian forces in Ukraine but did not reach a common position, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. With inputs from agencies.

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