France, Australia to supply Ukraine with artillery shells

AFP , Monday 30 Jan 2023

France and Australia will jointly supply Ukraine with 155 mm shells needed for artillery provided by the West since Russia's invasion, defence ministers Sebastien Lecornu and Richard Marles said Monday.

French Caesar howitzer
Ukrainian servicemen fire a French Caesar howitzer at Russian positions in Donbas last month. AFP


"Several thousand 155 mm shells will be manufactured jointly" by French arms supplier Nexter, France's Lecornu said, while Marles said the plan would come with a "multi-million-dollar" price tag.

The ammunition supplies fit into "the ongoing level of support both France and Australia are providing Ukraine to make sure Ukraine is able to stay in this conflict and... see it concluded on its own terms," the Australian minister added.

Lecornu said the aid would be "significant" and "an effort that will be kept up over time", with the first deliveries slated for the first quarter of 2023.

Marles said "there are some unique capabilities that exist in Australia and some synergies that can be achieved by Australia and France working together" to manufacture the shells.

While Nexter will carry out the manufacturing, Australia would supply gunpowder, Lecornu said, without elaborating further.

The two defence ministers were meeting alongside both countries' foreign ministers, Catherine Colonna and Penny Wong, as France and Australia look to relaunch cooperation.

Ties took a serious blow in 2021 when Canberra dropped a French submarine contract in favour of American subs, as well as joining the AUKUS Pacific alliance with London and Washington.

Marles hailed "personal warmth between the four of us", with all the ministers stressing the need to "rebuild" or "relaunch" the relationship in different ways.

Several types of artillery sent to Ukraine from its Western allies fire 155 mm shells, including French-made CAESAR truck-mounted guns, the British-built M777 howitzer or the German Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled gun.

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