France to send Ukraine its first Western-made light tanks amid Russia war

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Jan. 5 (UPI) — France will send Ukraine Paris-made light combat tanks, the office of President Emmanuel Macron said, marking the first time Western-manufactured armored tanks will be sent to Kyiv amid its war with Russia.

The Elysee Palace announced the agreement in a statement published Wednesday following a phone call between Macron and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the French president re-affirmed his country’s support for Ukraine to recover its full sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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Neither the number of tanks, the specific make nor when they would be delivered were mentioned by either side.

During his nightly address Wednesday, Zelensky thanked Macron for the pledge, while continuing his call on Western nations for more advanced weaponry.

“There is no rational reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with Western-type tanks. This is is very important to restore security for all Ukrainians and peace for all Europeans,” he said.

“We must put an end to the Russian aggression this year exactly and not postpone any of the defensive capabilities that can speed up the defeat of the terrorist state. Modern Western armored vehicles, Western-type tanks are just one of these key capabilities.”

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Zelensky has been calling for advanced weaponry since the war began and has continued to do so as some countries, including the United States, have incrementally heeded Kyiv’s call.

The United States and other allies have repeatedly sent Ukraine packages of military assistance, and in June Washington announced HIMARS advanced weapons systems for Kyiv. last month, Washington said it would deliver its most advanced weapons systems to date, a Patriot missile battery.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed to a reporter that they are considering sending Ukraine Bradley armored fighting vehicles.

Earlier this week, Zelensky warned that he has information pointing to Russia planning a prolonged attack with the use of Iranian-made drones with the purpose of exhausting the country’s air defense, energy sectors and the will of his people.

Zelensky in his nightly address Wednesday said he will continue diplomatic attempts to secure more weaponry.

“Each of our partners will have very specific information about our defense needs,” he said. “And we all have the same goal: to put an end to Russian aggression as soon as possible, to restore reliable and lasting peace.”

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Firefighters conduct work while smoke rises from a building after it was attacked by Russian drones in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17, 2022. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo