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18 Jan, 2024 09:56

The war economy is an opportunity – French defense minister

The conflict with Russia generates jobs and export advantages for arms manufacturers, Sebastien Lecornu has said
The war economy is an opportunity – French defense minister

The surge in demand for weapons amid the Ukraine conflict is benefitting the French economy, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu told Le Parisien on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of new jobs have been created in the defense industry sector since 2017, he explained.

“The war economy is an opportunity … for our industrialists. They have every interest in these tensions, because the ability to quickly deliver equipment will become one of the criteria for export success,” the minister said, referring to the Ukraine conflict.

Lecornu revealed plans to produce 78 Caesar howitzers for Ukraine in 2024, a goal that he said had been made possible via the arms manufacturer Nexter's reorganization of its production process.

“It took Nexter 30 months to produce a Caesar gun, it now only takes 15! The employees were strongly mobilized,” Lecornu said.

French people should “stop flagellating ourselves” for supposedly not doing enough for Ukraine, Lecornu said. People doing that lack patriotism, he suggested, adding that Kiev had never complained about military assistance provided by France.

While the US and its allies originally rushed to provide Ukraine with weapons to fight Russia, the West’s ability to sustain new supplies following the depletion of its stockpiles has faced industrial capacity constraints.

Lecornu, however, said monthly shell donations from France to Ukraine would triple by the end of January, compared to the previous year, describing this as significant progress.

EU nations have pledged to deliver one million NATO-standard artillery shells within one year, but are not expected to do so by the March deadline. A hike in global demand for gunpowder has aggravated the situation.

This week, President Emmanuel Macron promised to send 40 SCALP air-launched cruise missiles and “hundreds of bombs” to Kiev. Lecornu told Le Parisien the delivery would happen in the first half of the year.

Moscow has claimed that Western supplies are only prolonging the conflict, but will not change its outcome. Last year, the country significantly ramped up its own military production. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported in mid-December that the manufacturing of key items, such as drones and artillery shells, had been increased by as much as 17-fold, compared to the levels before the hostilities started.

Earlier this week, the Russian military reported that it had identified a location in Ukraine where foreign fighters were stationed and hit it with a precision strike. Most of the personnel were French mercenaries, the statement claimed, and more than 60 of the combatants are estimated to have been killed.