Paris is silent on Mirage 2000 for Kyiv amid artificial arms deficit

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After experiencing the collapse of their spring counter-offensive, the Ukrainian armed forces executed a strategic retreat from the town of Avdiivka on February 17. This town had previously been under their control, following its declaration as a pro-Moscow republic. 

Photo: Tactical Report

The head of the Ukrainian armed forces, the newly-appointed General Oleksandr Sirsky, provided an explanation for this decision, stating, “We made a strategic decision to withdraw our troops from the city. We’ve strategically relocated our forces to defend more advantageous lines. Our soldiers have performed their duty with utmost honor, effectively engaging several of Russia’s elite military units and inflicting substantial damage.” 

Later, at the Munich Security Conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized the need for a ‘fair solution’ that prioritizes the preservation of lives above all other considerations. However, he expressed his grievances, saying, “Keeping Ukraine artificially short of arms, particularly in artillery and long-range capabilities, provides Putin with the flexibility to adjust to the fluctuating intensity of this conflict.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock

After Berlin, came Paris

Currently, a deadlock in Congress is preventing the planned release of $61 billion in military assistance for Ukrainian forces. In a move reminiscent of the UK’s earlier actions, Germany and France have stepped up to form a “security pact” with Ukraine. They pledged to provide new arms supplies, this pledge was made just a few hours before the fall of Avdiivka. 

During a meeting with Mr. Zelensky in Berlin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz committed to a substantial aid package totaling 8 billion euros in favor of Kyiv. This aid includes a significant arms package featuring 36 self-propelled 155 mm howitzers [18 PzH2000 and 18 RCH-155]. However, the delivery of these tools to Ukrainian forces will not occur until 2025-2027. This commitment also imposed a condition that Ukraine must forgo the Taurus cruise missiles they had been interested in for some time. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Meanwhile in France, President Macron reassured Mr. Zelensky with a commitment for military aid worth 3 billion euros, lined up for the year 2024. This promise is presumably sourced from an undisclosed budget, given that the government is currently seeking 10 billion in savings to meet its deficit reduction targets.

Mirage 2000D is taboo

France has previously expressed its intention to deliver additional SCALP missiles and, come February, “several hundred” Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon Systems [AASM] to the individuals residing within Élysée. However, for the time being, Paris has halted the supply of Mirage 2000D fighter-bombers to Kiev. 

Photo credit: Pixabay

Back in September, as rumors about this topic were escalating, French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecorneu was prompt to quash the speculation. He explained to the parliamentarians that this wasn’t high on Ukraine’s priority list in their negotiations with France. Nonetheless, the narrative has shifted slightly since then, with talks around the potential procurement of American F-16s from the Netherlands and Denmark. 

In January of this year, General Mykola Oleschuk, the head of the Ukrainian Air Force, alluded to the potential transfer of the Mirage 2000D. In a subsequent discussion with Libération, Cyber Intelligence Chief General Kyrylo Budanov voiced his aspirations that France would contribute to providing aviation support. Here’s what he had to say on the subject: “I expect France to provide us with the aviation assistance we desperately need. You should know that Ukrainian pilots are among the world’s most skilled, largely due to their extensive combat experience. They would have no problems adjusting to this new technology. I remain hopeful that the French Republic will provide us with these aircraft” [Mirage 2000D, editor’s note].

Photo: Savvas Savvaidis

Mirage 2000D is beyond Ukraine’s capabilities

Francois Le Monde suggests that Ukraine may face difficulties managing diverse types of combat aircraft. He believes that Ukraine’s attention should primarily be on the F-16. The rationale behind this perspective is that operating the Mirage 2000D presents additional challenges, such as maintaining operational status, establishing appropriate infrastructure, and navigating through rigorous pilot training procedures. These procedures could span roughly six to eight months, potentially extending to include navigators and maintenance personnel. 

However, Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonsson holds an opposing view. In his interview with The Kyiv Independent, he voiced that Ukraine does indeed need fighter jets. He proposed that Sweden might consider offering them the Gripen aircraft. Nevertheless, he stressed that a prerequisite for this proposal would be Ukraine attaining full membership in NATO. He also highlighted that such a decision would necessitate prior consultation with other relevant parties.

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