Macron Aims to Finalize Coalition to Send Instructors to Ukraine

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron said he aims to put together a coalition in the coming days to send military instructors to Ukraine as Kyiv needs to train tens of thousands of new soldiers to repel Russia’s invasion.

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“It’s much more efficient and practical for certain capacities in certain conditions to train on Ukrainian soil, it’s a legitimate request,” Macron told a news conference in Paris, standing alongside Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“We’re going to use the coming days to finalize the broadest possible coalition,” he said, adding that several countries had already agreed to the plan.

White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters separately on Friday that the US would not send its own trainers into Ukraine, adding that it is grateful for Paris’s support for Kyiv.

Zelenskiy is in France to take part in ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which helped the Allies reverse the momentum against Nazi Germany during World War II. He and US President Joe Biden have used the events to highlight the need to sustain support for Kyiv, linking its struggle to repel Russia to the effort to liberate Europe eight decades ago.

Ukraine is facing a renewed Russian offensive and stepped-up air attacks on its cities as Moscow capitalizes on a months-long delay in new US aid that left Kyiv facing weapons shortages.

Biden announced a new $225 million aid package for Ukraine during a meeting with Zelenskiy earlier on Friday. This came after Macron on Thursday said France plans to transfer some Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to Ukraine and train its pilots. In addition, he proposed training, equipping and arming 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers.

France also intends to provide €200 million ($216 million) to help French companies working to rebuild critical infrastructure in Ukraine, especially for energy needs, as well as €400 million in loans and €50 million in subsidies from the French development agency through 2027.

Germany, meanwhile, is considering sending a fourth Patriot air-defense missile battery to Ukraine, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, adding that a final decision hasn’t been taken.

Peace Summit

Macron added on Friday that he will take part in a peace summit in mid-June in Switzerland, which Biden isn’t planning to attend despite public pressure from Zelenskiy. Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will instead represent the US.

“I expect the widest possible mobilization,” Macron said, adding that the goal is to find what he described as “essential bricks” to reach long-term peace. He cited nuclear security, civilian infrastructure, and food.

Asked whether he would push for emerging powers known as Global South countries, which have so far refused to align with Ukraine, to attend, he said: “You can count on us.”

Zelenskiy said the summit is the first step toward ending the war, and called for a “fair and strong” peace.

He added that it’s “very important that leaders who have big personal political impact help invite other leaders who still balance between Ukraine and Russia.”

--With assistance from Jordan Fabian.

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