France may soon send military trainers to Ukraine, diplomats say

Volodymyr Zelensky and Emmanuel Macron

Volodymyr Zelensky and Emmanuel Macron

Photo: Associated Press

France may soon send military trainers to Ukraine, despite concerns from some allies and criticism from Russia, and may announce this next week during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's stay in the country, three diplomatic sources have told Reuters.

Diplomats have said Paris hoped to create and lead a coalition of countries offering such assistance to Kiev's war effort, although some of its European Union partners fear that would make a conflict more likely. directly with Russia.

According to diplomats who spoke to Reuters, France would initially send a limited number of personnel to go over the modalities of a mission, before sending hundreds of trainers.

The training would center around demining, maintaining operational equipment and technical expertise for fighter jets to be provided by the West, according to diplomats. 

Paris would also finance, arm and train a Ukrainian motorized brigade. 

"Arrangements are very advanced and we can expect something next week," said one of the sources.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to be in France on June 6 to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied soldiers landed in Normandy to drive out Nazi German forces during World War II. Zelensky will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron a day later. 

A senior Ukrainian commander said on Monday that he had signed documents allowing French military instructors to visit Ukrainian training centers soon. 

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has portrayed the presence of the regular French army in Ukraine as a step towards global conflict.

France has trained around 10,000 Ukrainian troops since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022, but it has done so inside the EU. However, the new mission will not be under the auspices of the EU or NATO, the diplomats said.