…Macron says France ready to train Ukrainian fighter jet pilots
The 31 tanks the United States (U.S.) promised earlier this year to deliver to Ukraine have arrived at a military training centre in Germany, the U.S. Defence Department said.
“I can confirm that the 31 M1 Abrams training tanks have arrived at Grafenwöhr, Germany in preparation for subsequent training of Ukrainian tank crewson Monday.
Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in Washington on Tuesday.
Grafenwöhr, in northern Bavaria, is home to a U.S. military training base.
Ryder said Ukrainian crews were expected to arrive and begin training within the next couple of weeks.
“As we’ve discussed previously, this extensive training programme for Ukrainian crews and maintainers is intended to prepare them for their critical roles ahead in effectively operating the M1 tank and defending Ukrainian people.’’
At the end of April, U.S. Chief of Staff Mark Milley said at a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group at the U.S. airbase in Ramstein.
He said that Washington would first supply Abrams tanks that were not fit for combat, but could be used for training.
The Abrams tanks intended for the battlefield are still being repaired.
U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. had accelerated the delivery in order to be able to provide Ukraine with more armoured equipment in the coming months.
The long-awaited decision to send 31 U.S. tanks to Ukraine was made back in January, in conjunction with Germany’s drawn-out decision on whether or not to send Kiev Leopard main battle tanks.
In a related development, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said the country would train Ukrainian fighter jet pilots, but he would not send the planes.
“We have opened the door to train Ukrainian pilots.
“The training can start from now.
”Several European countries had decided it was now necessary to start training,” Macron said.
Zelensky made the surprise trip to France on Sunday, on the heel of visits to Germany and Italy.
A Ukraine-France joint statement said new supplies would be prepared to address the most pressing and immediate needs to strengthen Ukraine’s defences.
The statement said that Paris would continue to help Kiev defend itself, “focusing its effort in supporting Ukraine’s air defence capacities in order to defend its population against Russian strikes.”