Emmanuel Macron: France will train Ukrainian fighter pilots

French President Emmanuel Macron announced intentions to train Ukrainian pilots as part of measures to strengthen Ukraine's capabilities ahead of a potential counter-offensive. Macron reaffirmed France's commitment to assisting Ukraine in its attempts to fight aggression and finally negotiate a sustainable peace in an interview with French TV channel TF1 a day after his talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "France's strategy is simple: to assist Ukraine in resisting, to organize, when it chooses, a counter-offensive in order to bring everyone back to the negotiating table, under conditions that it will have chosen, and to build a lasting peace," Macron explained, recalling that France was the first "to deliver light tanks."


Macron went on to explain that France had opted to give new ammunition and collaborate with Ukrainian soldiers in the country's east, giving assistance in maintaining vehicles and weaponry. France's president listed long-range missiles among the promised munitions. The United Kingdom reported on May 11, 2023, that it had given Storm Shadow long-range missiles. Given that the French military uses these weapons (called as the SCALP-EG in France), it is possible that these are the ones destined for Ukraine. The Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG cruise missile was developed by Matra and British Aerospace in the 1990s and is now manufactured by the European missile manufacturer MBDA.

Macron stated that he has "opened the door to train pilots" for Ukraine, but provided no further details. Macron emphasized that training could begin right away, potentially involving the United States and European countries that are willing to join.

When asked if France will send fighter jets, Macron outlined the three criteria for delivering a new platform to Ukraine:
  • To avoid an escalation of the conflict, the platform must be largely defensive.
  • The platform must be appropriate to the requirements of Ukraine's armed forces.
  • The delivery must not jeopardize France's defence capabilities.
On March 22, 2023, the daily newspaper Le Figaro reported that approximately 30 Ukrainian air crewmembers were undergoing accelerated training to fly Dassault Aviation Mirage 2000 aircraft. The French Ministry of Armed Forces, however, refuted the reports. "We are indeed training Ukrainian aircrews in France, specifically in air defence and survival if their aircraft is shot down," the Ministry clarified. "We cannot provide any additional information for operational and safety reasons for both trainers and trainees."


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