Australia and France to jointly provide ammunition to Kyiv

Australia and France to jointly provide ammunition to Kyiv

“But it is also true that we wanted to act together as a statement about how important Australia and France consider supporting Ukraine in the current conflict,” said Marles.

Warmth on display: French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong at a meeting in Paris.Credit:Nathan Laine

Lecornu said that while the focus was on sending Ukraine tanks and fighter jets, the media overlooked the Ukrainian military’s daily need for ammunition and other basic supplies.

He said that Ukraine needs shipments that are “regular, predictable and reliable” with an effort that will be sustained over time.

The first deliveries are estimated for the first quarter of 2023.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, welcomed the announcement, saying extra supplies of ammunition were one of his country’s biggest requests for military aid.

“It will be a big help for Ukraine,” Myroshnychenko said, adding that the Ukrainian military could use as many as 5,000 artillery shells in an intense day of fighting.

He said he looked forward to hearing more details about the delivery timeline and the amount of ammunition to be provided.

Various 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.

The meeting with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Lecornu was the first joint high-level talks since Canberra abandoned a defense deal with Paris two years ago in favor of ties with Britain and the United States.

Australia-France ties took a serious hit in 2021 when Canberra abandoned a French submarine contract in favor of US submarines, and formed the AUKUS Pacific alliance with London and Washington.

Announcing new collaboration: From left, Defense Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu in Paris. Credit: Nathan Laine

Marles praised “personal warmth between the four of us”, with all ministers stressing the need to “rebuild” or “reopen” the relationship in various ways.

Despite French President Emmanuel Macron saying last year that the offer of a submarine contract remained on the table, Marles confirmed that Australia did not intend to have any conventionally powered interim submarine capability until the US or UK nuclear-powered submarines have not been delivered.

Colonna called AUKUS “an incident I will not return to”, while Lecornu played down the tripartite agreement’s impact on Franco-Australian rapprochement.

“Is AUKUS blocking the capacity for our military cooperation in the future? The answer is no, otherwise… we would not be here to hold this 2+2 meeting,” he said.

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The partnership has been reset around greater cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, where France sees itself as a regional power, because of its overseas territories including New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

Without naming China specifically, Wong said both Australia and France share a desire for a region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous and “respectful of sovereignty”.

“We share values, we share interests at a time when the world is being reformed. We therefore place great emphasis on the cooperation with France in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Wong.

In a lengthy communiqué, the nations agreed to future climate action in the region, including a joint investment in a port project in Papua New Guinea.

Colonna said France also supports Australia’s candidacy to host COP31 in 2026 and welcomes the partnership with Pacific Island countries.

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