France to send rejected howitzers to Ukraine – media
France is reportedly preparing a new weapons delivery to Ukraine, which might include between six and 12 Caesar self-propelled howitzers, the French newspaper Le Monde reported on Saturday. The artillery pieces were originally intended for Denmark, but Copenhagen said not all of them met the required standards, the paper alleged.
The deal was the result of “lengthy negotiations” between France, Ukraine, and Denmark, Le Monde said, adding that Kiev had initially requested 15 howitzers. According to Le Monde, French President Emmanuel Macron opposed the idea of supplying Ukraine from the country’s army stocks, since Paris had already sent 18 Caesars to Kiev, which amounted to almost a quarter of France’s own arsenal of 76 such artillery pieces.
Instead, France decided to supply Ukraine with howitzers that were originally ordered by Denmark back in 2017, Le Monde said, adding that Copenhagen agreed to give up on the purchase since the artillery pieces ordered were still undergoing technical validation, and at least some of them did not meet the required specifications set out by the Danish side.
Kiev was initially hesitant to accept the howitzers but eventually agreed to take them as they are, Le Monde reported. The details of the delivery are still being finalized, but a “political agreement” between Macron, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has been reached, according to Le Monde.
The report states that the Ceasars intended for Denmark are almost twice as heavy as those used by France (32 tons against 18 tons). Among other differences are that they are mounted on eight-wheeled vehicles rather than six-wheeled versions, can carry up to 36 artillery rounds instead of 18, and their cabins have heavier armor.
Neither the Elysee Palace nor the French Defense Ministry commented on the report.
Earlier this week, the US Senate approved a military and economic aid package for Ukraine worth $12 billion. It sets aside $4.5 billion for the Ukrainian government and $3 billion for weapons and military equipment, while the remaining funding is earmarked to replenish US weapons already sent to Ukraine and allow the transfer of more arms from American stockpiles.
In mid-September, an aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Mikhail Podoliak, said that Kiev’s goals in the conflict with Russia involved capturing the areas controlled by the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
However, on Friday, the leaders of the two Donbass republics and of the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, the last two of which recently declared independence from Kiev, signed treaties of accession to Russia. The documents will now be sent for ratification by the Russian parliament.
Moscow has previously said it would defend its territory using all means available and has repeatedly warned Western nations against sending more weapons to Ukraine. Such arms deliveries only prolong the conflict and the suffering of civilians, Russia has stated.