The conflict with Russia generates jobs and export advantages for arms manufacturers, Sebastien Lecornu has said
The surge in demand for weapons amid the Ukraine conflict benefits the economy of France, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu told Le Parisien on Wednesday.
The senior official revealed plans to produce 78 Caesar howitzers for Ukraine in 2024, a goal that he said was made possible via the reorganization of the production process by the arms maker Nexter.
“It took Nexter 30 months to produce a Caesar gun, it now only takes 15! The employees were strongly mobilized,” Lecornu said.
He explained that the defense industry is creating new jobs in the French economy, with tens of thousands generated since 2017.
“The war economy is an opportunity … for our industrialists. They have every interest in these tensions, because the ability to quickly deliver equipment will become one of the criteria for export success,” the minister said, referring to the Ukraine conflict.
French people should “stop flagellating ourselves” for supposedly not doing enough for Ukraine, Lecornu urged. People doing that lack patriotism, he suggested, adding that Kiev never complained about military assistance provided by France.
While the US and its allies rushed to deplete their weapons stockpiles in order to help Ukraine fight Russia, the West’s ability to sustain the supplies in the long run was challenged by its weak industrial base.
EU nations have pledged to deliver one million NATO-standard artillery shells within one year, but are not expected to do so by the March deadline. A hike in global demand for gunpowder has aggravated the situation.
This week, President Emmanuel Macron pledged to send 40 SCALP air-launched cruise missiles and “hundreds of bombs” to Kiev. Lecornu told Le Parisien the delivery will happen in the first half of the year.
Moscow has claimed that Western supplies can only prolong the conflict, but will not change its outcome. Last year the country significantly ramped up its own military production. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported in mid-December that the manufacturing of key items, such as drones and artillery shells, was increased by as much as 170-fold, compared to the levels before the hostilities started.
Lecornu described the expected tripling of monthly French shell donations to Ukraine by the end of January, year-over-year.
Earlier this week, the Russian military reported identifying a location in Ukraine where foreign fighters were stationed, and hitting it with a precision strike. Most of the personnel were French mercenaries, the statement claimed; over 60 of the combatants are estimated to have been killed.
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