WITH REUTERS As Ukraine continues to battle acute munitions shortages and European nations lag behind the programme to fill the gaps, France has signalled an important unilateral step.

French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Tuesday he was prepared to use his powers to requisition industrial capacities or impose priorities to weapon makers to speed up production of arms and shells needed on the battlefield in Ukraine and elsewhere.
“These questions … are clearly on the table”, Lecornu told a news conference, adding stocks and production lines were particularly strained with regard to anti-air missiles and artillery shells.

Lecornu said he could requisition stocks or tell companies to give priority to certain orders, citing Aster missiles produced by MBDA as a potential case for such a move.

Foreign demand for French-produced arms was high, especially for anti-defence, artillery and radar systems exposed in Ukraine, Lecornu said, but the country’s defence industry is struggling to keep up with demand.

“We have missed out on certain contracts with Eastern Europe countries for whom the criterion of delivery deadlines is more important than the price,” Lecornu said.

France and other EU nations are nervous about the prospects of Donald Trump returning to the White House after America’s November presidential election. Trump is against investing billions more dollars in helping Ukraine on the battlefield, and unless Europe steps up to the plate the conflict with Russia will become much more problematic, observers say.

In the meantime, the Olympic Games in Paris this summer will severely test France’s security services.
Tightened security checks throughout France are likely until the Games are over.

FILE PHOTO: French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu arrives to attend a state dinner organised by French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron for Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, February 27, 2024. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/ File photo