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Ukraine: Macron does not rule out sending Leclerc tanks… if Germany and the US play this game

A concrete announcement will be made at the end of the sixtieth anniversary of the Franco-German reconciliation treaty. A celebration with more sobriety, even seriousness, than joy, first at the Sorbonne, then at the Elysee Palace for the Franco-German Council of Ministers, and at the National Assembly, where deputies from both countries gathered.

The statement made by Emmanuel Macron during the final press conference with Chancellor Olaf Scholz? Creation of the first Franco-German train ticket for young people. Of course, this is a good symbol at a time when the younger generation will have to replace the old in a Europe that is again experiencing war. At the same time, as teenagers from both countries learn less and less of each other’s language, a sign of inexorable alienation…

“I asked the Minister of the Armed Forces to work on it”

But does it really live up to the expectations associated with the conflict in Ukraine? Some did expect more, while Germany is under pressure from President Zelenskiy and a number of European partners to supply Ukrainian forces with its Leopard 2 tank. And Paris, to a lesser extent, harbors similar hopes with the Leclerc heavy tank. But Berlin hesitates, assuming the condition both to supply its own equipment and to allow the many European armies that are equipped to do so (there are about 2,000 Leopard tanks in Europe), that the United States will overcome the first step by supplying heavy battle tanks themselves. That is, highly offensive weapons.

A waltz hesitation for a simple but important reason, summarized at the Elysee Palace as follows: “We must find a delicate balance between supporting Ukraine so that it can win and avoiding escalation with Russia,” which could lead to an all-out conflict.

This Sunday everything started to move, no matter what. So the head of the French state for the first time publicly violated the taboo: “As for the Leclercs, I asked the Minister of the Armed Forces to work there. Nothing is excluded and it is valued collectively. It is clear that there can only be Leclercs, of which there are about 200 modernized and operational copies in the French army, if there are also German Leopards and American Abrams.

In such sensitive territory, which would allow the Ukrainians to launch a counter-offensive to repel the offensive that the Russians will prepare, according to the strategists, at the end of winter, the Westerners want to move forward in concert. To dissuade Putin as much as possible from a retaliatory strike, including with unconventional weapons (chemical or even nuclear), under the pretext of NATO “alliance”. “The first criterion (delivery options) in that it’s not escalator Macron is posing, casually creating a neologism.

Complex processing machines

The unspoken fear, both in Paris and in Washington and Berlin, is that Volodymyr Zelensky will use this to launch an offensive in Crimea, a peninsula that Putin annexed in 2014 and which he will never let go.

Army commander Emmanuel Macron lays out two more criteria. “That he can provide real and effective support,” first. That is, it is militarily effective for the Ukrainians, who will have to have several hundred heavy tanks. Where several dozen Leclercs, which Paris could, very hypothetically, provide, will only be able to accompany large battalions of Leopards and Abrams.

VIDEO. Western tanks delivered to Ukraine “may be decisive for the people of Kiev”

Another imperative to consider is the lengthy training in France required by Ukrainian soldiers to handle such vehicles, which could not arrive on the ground for several months at best. The third criterion: the imperative “not to weaken” one’s own defense capability. However, the reserves of the French army, as we saw with the Caesar guns, air defense systems and all kinds of ammunition, are almost not completed …

Answering the same question from German journalists, Olaf Scholz, who must reckon with the differences of his government coalition, where some insist on the delivery of the Leopard, was more evasive … and did not close the door completely. “We will continue to act according to the specific situation,” he said. It was adaptation to ground warfare that forced the Allies month after month to increase their military assistance, to break taboo after taboo. In the coming days and weeks, the French president concluded, “we will have work to do.” In the evening, the German Foreign Minister also moved the lines. At the LCI, Annalena Burbock assured that Germany was ready to allow Poland to supply Leopard tanks. “If we were asked a question,” she said, “we wouldn’t mind.”

Source: Le Parisien

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