In a potentially escalatory move, French President Emmanuel Macron became the first Western leader to supply Ukraine with tanks following talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
On Wednesday, the Elysée announced that French-made AMX-10 RC light tanks — which were designed in the 1980s and are currently being phased out of the French military — will be sent to Ukraine. The move is a significant change of position from the Macron government, which hitherto has shied away from sending armor to the war zone for fear of escalating tensions with Moscow.
France has already been supplying Kyiv (Kiev) with air defense systems, anti-aircraft missiles, artillery, and armored vehicles, but President Macron has been one of the few voices in Europe to consistently call for continued peace negotiations with Vladimir Putin to bring the conflict to an end.
The decision to send French-made tanks to the battlefield appears, therefore, to be a first move in shifting perspectives from western capitals on the viability of peace talks with the Kremlin.
A French presidential aid said according to the AFP: “The president wanted to increase aid” to Ukraine “by accepting to deliver AMX-10 RC light tanks,” adding: “It is the first time that Western-designed tanks are supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces.”
President Zelensky for his part wrote on Twitter: “Had a long and detailed conversation with President of France Emmanuel Macron on the current situation. Thanked for the decision to transfer light tanks and Bastion APCs to Ukraine, as well as for intensifying work with partners in the same direction.”
Just days later, U.S. President Biden said he too would be sending armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine, selecting Bradley M2s to be donated. Germany is also getting involved, announcing at the same time it would be sending Marder IFVs to Ukraine, a potentially risky move given the German Army has just brought back its now-vintage Marder armor to front-line service, given the new replacements have so many problems they have proven totally unusable in actual service.