Ukraine to get French combat vehicles in key move by West

This undated photo provided Thursday Jan.5, 2023 by the French Army shows AMX-10 RC tanks. France said Wednesday Jan.4, 2023 it will send French-made AMX-10 RC light tanks to Ukraine, the first tanks from a Western European country, following an afternoon phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (Jeremy Bessat/Armee de Terre via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

PARIS (AP) — The French Defense Ministry said Thursday it will soon hold talks with its Ukrainian counterpart to arrange for the delivery of armored combat vehicles in what France's presidency says will be the first time this type of Western-made wheeled tank destroyer will be given to the Ukrainian military.

Discussions will include the delivery timetable and the training of Ukrainian soldiers on the equipment, the ministry said.

Designated as “light tanks” in French, the AMX-10 RC carries a 105-milimeter cannon and two machine guns. It's primarily designed for reconnaissance missions and has enough armor to protect against light infantry weapons, according to the French defense ministry. They have wheels rather than tracks, allowing it to be more mobile than heavy tanks.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskyy took to Twitter to thank France the weapons and for "intensifying work with partners in the same direction.”

Ukraine has for months sought to be supplied with heavier tanks, including the U.S. Abrams and the German Leopard 2 tanks.

The Czech Republic and Poland have provided Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukrainian forces.

France's decision was announced after an hour-long call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Zelenskyy Wednesday afternoon. The Elysee declined to provide details about the agreement.

The AMX-10 RC has been in service with the French military since 1981 and has undergone recent upgrades. France's defense ministry said the combat vehicle is now being gradually replaced by the new equivalent named Jaguar.

The decision is another in France's military support to Ukraine, following the French defense minister's visit to Kyiv last week.

Paris has supplied Ukraine with a substantial chunk of its arsenal of Caesar cannons, as well as anti-tank missiles, Crotale air defense missile batteries and rocket launchers. It is also training some 2,000 Ukrainian troops on French soil.

U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration is considering sending to Ukraine Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a medium armored combat vehicle that can serve as a troop carrier.

Biden was asked during an exchange with reporters while traveling in Kentucky whether providing the tracked armored fighting vehicle to Ukraine was on the table. He responded “yes,” without offering further comment.

The German government has for months faced calls from Kyiv and some lawmakers at home to deliver Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine, but has said that it wouldn’t go alone with such a move and that no other country has supplied similar Western equipment.

The co-leader of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, Saskia Esken, told n-tv television Thursday that Scholz and the government are in regular and close contact “with our partners, with our friends, of course particularly with the Americans” on weapons deliveries.

Britain says it has given Ukraine more than 200 armored vehicles for troop transport, but no tanks as of yet.

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AP Writers Geir Moulson in Berlin, Jill Lawless in London, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to the story.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine