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A French Army AMX-10RC during a training exercise Davric
Ukraine

France promises to send Kyiv light tanks within a week

French President Emmanuel Macron promised in early January that France would send AMX-10s, after months of hesitation.

FRANCE HAS ANNOUNCED that it will begin delivering the armoured vehicles it has promised Ukraine in its war against Russia by next weekend.

The vehicles, of the AMX-10 type and sometimes described as “light tanks”, are used for armed reconnaissance and attacks on enemy tanks.

The first vehicles will be sent to Ukraine “by the end of next week”, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu told Le Parisien newspaper today.

He declined to specify the number of vehicles in the first batch, saying he did not want to give Russia any “strategic information”.

According to the French defence ministry, AMX-10s are highly mobile, “powerfully armed” and offer protection against light infantry fire.

Their combat weight is 20 tonnes, around a third of that of France’s Leclerc battle tanks.

The French armed forces have begun to replace AMX-10s, first developed in the 1970s, with more modern vehicles called Jaguar.

President Emmanuel Macron promised in early January that France would send AMX-10s, after months of hesitation because of fears that increased weapons deliveries could further escalate the conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.

Training of Ukrainian crews on the AMX-10 was now “nearly complete”, Lecornu said.

Overall training of Ukrainian military was “intensifying”, Lecornu also said, both in France and Poland, a fellow NATO member.

Starting in March, 600 Ukrainian troops would undergo training every month, he said.

Asked about possible fighter aircraft deliveries to Ukraine, an urgent request by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Lecornu said the question was “not taboo”.

But he said such military aid posed complex “logistical and practical questions”.

Dutch expel Russians

Yesterday the Dutch foreign ministry announced the expulsion of several Russian diplomats and the closure of Russia’s trade mission in Amsterdam, partly due to the Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The Dutch foreign ministry also accused Moscow of using diplomatic cover for spying.

It was the latest development in a dispute over Russia’s failure to grant visas to Dutch diplomats to staff their embassy in Moscow and the consulate in Saint Petersburg.

Because of the lack of staff, the consulate will close tomorrow, though the embassy will stay open, the statement added.

The Netherlands had repeatedly tried to find a solution to the dispute, said the ministry statement.

“It is unacceptable that Russia is trying to place spies in the Netherlands under diplomatic cover,” Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra tweeted late last night.

“That is why we are limiting the number of Russian diplomats in the Netherlands.”

The Russian diplomats being told to leave have two weeks to depart the country, while Russia’s trade mission in Amsterdam had to be closed from Tuesday, said the ministry statement.

The shutdown of Russia’s trade mission was “a response to the continued violations of international human rights” by Moscow, Hoekstra said in a separate letter to parliament.

It will remain closed “until the Russian federation stops its violation of the prohibition against attacks on civilian populations and structures” in Ukraine, he said.

 – © AFP 2023

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