Australia, France cast aside past for unity with ammunition deal
A changing dynamic within the European Union has placed France as the spiritual leader of the bloc’s efforts to support Ukraine in its efforts to defend itself against the Kremlin’s troops. This made restoring the partnership all the more important.
Such a new joint defense project underscores just how far the two nations have come in a relatively short time, as they agreed to “share the bill” to supply Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s armed forces with ammunition. The agreement will see both countries share the cost of deliveries of the ammunition from French manufacturer Nexter, with Australia supplying the explosives.
Pallets of US-made 155mm shells are finally heading to Ukraine.Credit: AP
There were few details on bilateral deliveries of the munitions, but Armed Forces Minister Sebastian Lecornu said he would be “faithful to the French doctrine of discretion” over the quantity and quality of its military support. He indicated that delivery of “several thousand” shells would begin this quarter, suggesting that it would be an ongoing, or “continuous” commitment.
Zelensky has made constant pleas for military aid since Russia invaded his country on February 24, including basic supplies of fuel and bullets, and famously told the world amid rumors he had fled Kiev: “I need ammunition, not not a ride”.
And while AUKUS cast a shadow, there was no sign of any change in Australia’s intention to buy US or UK-designed nuclear submarines, despite renewed concerns about long delays. In November, Macron said his country’s submarine offer “remains on the table”, potentially providing Australia with new capabilities as it waits for its nuclear fleet.
But Marles said there were no plans for any conventionally powered interim submarine capability as Australia moved to acquire the nuclear-powered vessels.
Both nations want to work more closely together on defense manufacturing, with Lecornu downplaying the canceled $80 billion deal’s impact on future relations.
“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.
When asked if the two countries are trying to work their way out of the previous cracks in their relationship, Colonna replied: “It’s not communication. It’s politics”.
And for the first time in a while – without scoring cheap points – both nations got that bit just right.
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