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France has announced that it will deliver 78 Caesar howitzers to Ukraine and increase its supply of shells to meet Kyiv’s urgent needs for ammunition to fight against Russia’s ongoing invasion. Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu stated that an agreement has been reached among France, Ukraine, and Denmark to finance the self-propelled 155 mm howitzers, allowing for a quick delivery. France also plans to deliver 80,000 shells for 155 mm guns to Ukraine this year, a significant increase from the 30,000 shells delivered since the beginning of the war in February 2022. Additionally, France is participating in an initiative led by the Czech Republic to identify available stocks of powder and ammunition that could be purchased from countries outside the EU to further support Ukraine.

The Czech Republic aims to obtain 800,000 artillery shells for Ukraine through the initiative, with the goal of delivering the first shells no later than June. At least 18 countries have joined this effort, according to officials in Prague. Earlier this month, Germany, France, and Poland pledged to procure more weapons for Kyiv and increase the production of military equipment to support Ukraine facing a shortage of military resources. Lecornu emphasized that European countries should reduce their reliance on the US for security to ensure the continent’s safety, expecting this issue to be a campaign topic ahead of the European elections in June.

Lecornu’s remarks come amid concerns in Europe that the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House could weaken the NATO alliance, particularly after his comments suggesting reluctance to defend allies in the event of a Russian attack. Even if President Joe Biden remains in office, EU leaders are worried that the slow US pivot to Asia to counter a rising China will leave Europe increasingly responsible for its own security. Efforts by the US to secure new funds to arm Ukraine have been stalled in Congress, prompting European nations to step up their support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.

Overall, France’s decision to deliver Caesar howitzers and increase its supply of shells to Ukraine reflects a broader effort by European countries to support Kyiv in its conflict against Russia. By participating in initiatives to secure additional ammunition and reduce reliance on the US for security, France and other European nations are taking action to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities and respond to the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe. The need for increased European cooperation and support for Ukraine is highlighted as key to ensuring the continent’s security, particularly in the face of potential shifts in US foreign policy.

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