France trains Ukrainian troops in secret – Politico
France is providing Ukrainian service members with “specialized” training in a clandestine program, Politico reported on Friday, citing sources.
According to an unnamed adviser to the French defense minister, unlike the UK, France has decided against conducting massive training exercises with Ukrainian troops. Officially, since the start of the Russian military operation in late February, it has prepared a total of 40 Ukrainian soldiers, focusing on how to operate French CAESAR self-propelled howitzers.
Unofficially, however, the adviser hinted that Ukrainians may be receiving more in-depth instruction on French soil. “The UK has chosen to forge ahead with basic training. We are doing more specialized training,” he told Politico. “We are not going to tell you everything that we do.”
The outlet’s source also indicated that Paris has embarked on a more “discreet” strategy to support Kiev. As an example, he cited recent talks between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during which the two leaders agreed to send a mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. The facility was repeatedly shelled by Kiev’s forces, Moscow said.
According to retired French Colonel Michel Goya, Paris’ current stance on military training is a “political” choice. He told Politico that France could have trained Ukrainians the way the British do. “We could have welcomed Ukrainians in camps across France and turned them into soldiers. We’ve done this before with African soldiers,” he said.
Retired French General Jerome Pellistrandi, however, disagreed, telling Politico that French forces are now generally unable to support large-scale training programs at home due to their overseas deployments in Africa and the Middle East.
A number of Western countries, including the UK, Poland, and Germany, have been providing training for Ukrainian troops. Britain has been especially active in this regard. Since June, around 5,000 Ukrainian personnel have reportedly undergone training on British soil.
According to a Sky News report in early September, the UK military decided to extend the combat courses for Ukrainians from three to five weeks to potentially provide Kiev with tens of thousands of fresh troops to take part in the fighting.