After a period of relatively quiet material support to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, the French government finally decided on April 22 to step up the pace by announcing that it would deliver heavy weapons to kyiv.
In particular, a dozen Caesar 155 mm self-propelled artillery systems on 6×6 chassis will be transferred from French army stocks, leaving 64 units in place.
France recently decided to order 32 next-generation Caesar 6×6 Mark II systems using a new chassis.
In terms of supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine, there was speculation that artillery destined for Morocco could be diverted, but nothing seems to have come of it.
However, the commitment – confirmed by French President Emmanuel Macron – to send Caesar may displease the military, as senior officers have often complained of having insufficient artillery.
The 155mm guns, which will be delivered to Ukraine in a few weeks, will be accompanied by around 10,000 rounds of unspecified ammunition and training for Ukrainian artillery personnel (which began in late April).
This type of training (with live firing) normally takes place at the Canjuers military base near Marseille, where demonstration firings are regularly carried out for export customers.
Cesar’s pending deliveries follow more modest support from France to Ukraine, mainly in the form of Anti-tank weapons MILAN. French officials only admitted the shipments under pressure from the media and other governments, particularly authorities in Kyiv who criticized Macron for not doing enough.
As a member of NATO, France mobilized various capabilities to support the alliance’s response to Russian aggression. The French Air and Space Force deployed fighters deployed to Estonia as part of the Baltic Air Policing mission, while daily fighter patrols were carried out to the east and E-planes 3F AWACS were active.
France has also deployed 550 troops to Romania and another 250 to Estonia as NATO strengthens its forward position in Eastern Europe. It is also equipped with significant intelligence resources to monitor the Black Sea region, as one of two Transall C-160G Aircraft Gabriel SIGINT.
A Beechcraft King Air 350 VADER was also flown for the first time in operation by the Air and Space Force.
On the other hand, until recently, France had stressed that the military equipment it transported to Ukraine was mainly defensive, such as bulletproof vests, helmets and logistics systems. With the imminent arrival of the Caesars, it is clear that Paris has changed its posture.
However, open source footage of destroyed or captured Russian MBTs in Ukraine revealed an embarrassing fact. Some of these tanks were equipped with thermal imaging fire control systems from Thales, provided legally after 2014 thanks to a loophole in EU sanctions imposed after the initial Russian invasion of Ukraine.