France to send dozens of armoured vehicles, light tanks to Ukraine

By Jean Terzian

PARIS (Reuters) - France will send to Ukraine in the coming weeks dozens of armoured vehicles and light tanks, including the AMX-10RCs fighting vehicles, according to a joint statement issued after President Emmanuel Macron's talks with Ukraine's president.

After a working dinner that lasted more than three hours between Macron and Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the French presidency indicated that Paris was also concentrating its efforts on supporting Kyiv's air defence capabilities against Russian strikes.

The visit to Paris formed part of Zelenskiy's whirlwind weekend tour of several key European allies to drum up military and financial support ahead of an expected major Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian forces.

After securing a bumper $3 billion new military package from Germany over the weekend, Zelenskiy said in Berlin on Sunday that Kyiv and its allies could make a Russian defeat "irreversible" as early as this year.

Macron reaffirmed to Zelenskiy that Paris will continue to provide political, financial, humanitarian and military support to Ukraine for as long as necessary, according to the statement.

A source at the French presidency told reporters that additional, more modern defence systems would be made available to Ukraine.

There is currently no question of delivering fighter jets to Kyiv, as it has requested, the source added.

The French AMX-10RCs vehicles have high speed and manoeuvrability, allowing them to move quickly on the battlefield and change positions. Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov called them a "sniper rifle on ... fast wheels."

(Reporting by Jean Terzian; Writing by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Eiting by Kim Coghill and Lincoln Feast)