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French minister: Paris to soon deliver 78 Caesar howitzers, increase shell supplies to Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek March 26, 2024 10:55 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian servicemen fire with a French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzer toward Russian positions in eastern Ukraine on Dec. 28, 2022. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP via Getty Images)
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France will soon be able to supply Ukraine with 78 Caesar howitzers and has boosted its production of artillery rounds to meet Kyiv's most urgent needs, the Associated Press (AP) reported on March 26, citing French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu.

In January, Lecornu presented a plan for Kyiv, Paris, and other allies to jointly finance 78 Caesar howitzers for Ukraine. Speaking at a news conference on March 26, the minister said that France, Ukraine, and Denmark reached an agreement that will enable Paris to "quickly deliver" the artillery systems.

Separately, France had already delivered 30 Caesar artillery systems to Ukraine as part of earlier deliveries.

According to the French minister, his country also plans to deliver 80,000 155 mm artillery shells to Ukraine in 2024, a considerable increase from 30,000 rounds last year.

"In 2024, we will be able to reach the objective of 100,000 155mm shells, including 80,000 for Ukraine and 20,000 for the needs of our own army," Lecornu said at a press conference.

Paris is also contributing to the Czech-led initiative to purchase shells for Ukraine from outside the EU, Lecornu added. Czech President Petr Pavel presented the initiative in February, saying that some 800,000 shells could be purchased and sent to Ukraine if allies provide financing.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky later told Bloomberg that the number of shells the initiative could potentially supply could go as high as 1.5 million.

Ukraine has been facing increasingly severe ammunition shortages in recent months, contributing to the loss of a key front-line city of Avdiivka in February. The EU has delivered 500,000 shells by March, half of the original pledged number, promising to supply the rest by the end of 2024.

The U.S. provided some artillery rounds in its recent $300 million defense package but additional aid from Washington remains effectively blocked as a $60 billion aid bill remains stuck in Congress.

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