Ukraine gets French Caesar cannons and British radar in latest batch of military aid

Western countries including France and Germany scale up weapons support for Ukraine

Germany is supplying Gepard anti-aircraft tanks after criticism of its cautious stance on Ukraine. AFP

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Ukraine is set to receive modern lorry-mounted cannons, anti-aircraft tanks and artillery-detecting radar systems in the latest batch of military aid provided by western allies in its war with Russia.

After starting cautiously with protective equipment such as helmets and defensive weapons, Ukraine’s allies have scaled up their response amid warnings of a long, attritional battle in the eastern Donbas region.

Britain, France, Germany and the US have all made new commitments in the last week, providing some of their own gear as well as helping Eastern European countries to furnish Ukraine with Soviet-era equipment.

But Ukraine has not declared itself satisfied, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying he continued to press world leaders for more weapons whenever he speaks to them.

Britain

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce an additional £300 million (£376m) of military aid when he addresses Ukraine’s parliament by video link on Tuesday.

This will include electronic warfare equipment, GPS jamming hardware, thousands of night vision devices and counter-battery radar systems that detect incoming artillery.

Britain said it would also send heavy lifting equipment to help isolated forces and a fleet of specialised Toyota Landcruisers to rescue civilians from the front line, meeting what it said was a request from Kyiv.

Ministers last week announced that Ukraine would receive armoured vehicles known as Stormers fitted with anti-air missile launchers, as well as Brimstone missiles which are expected to arrive in the next few weeks.

Ukrainian soldiers use a launched with American Javelin missiles during exercises in January. AP

France

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised Ukraine a shipment of Caesar artillery systems, whose 155mm cannons can fire six times a minute and hit targets 40 kilometres away.

In service with the French army since 2010, the Caesar has been deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali and is described by military chiefs as the “trump card of the French artillery”.

The truck-loaded Caesar is one of the more modern pieces of hardware offered by western countries who have sometimes put more emphasis on arranging transfers of Soviet-era equipment from the former Eastern Bloc.

Ukrainian gunners were reportedly receiving training in France on how to operate the Caesars, after Paris was cited by a German support tracker as having provided relatively little military aid in recent weeks.

Germany

Germany last week approved the export of heavy weapons to Ukraine after its initially cautious stance and perceived lack of clarity from Chancellor Olaf Scholz led to scathing criticism from Ukraine and many MPs.

Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht announced at the US Air Force Base Ramstein that Ukraine would receive Gepard anti-aircraft tanks which she billed as “exactly what Ukraine needs” to defend its airspace from Russia.

The Gepard, which entered service in 1976 with what was then the West German military, is no longer used by the army but some stocks have been retained by manufacturers, who are also expected to provide training.

The three-person vehicle’s two 35mm cannons can hit airborne targets at an altitude of up to 5,500 metres and ground targets up to 2,000m away.

US

President Joe Biden last week asked Congress to approve $33bn in additional aid to Ukraine, including $20bn in military and security assistance.

The package would include $5bn worth of direct shipments from American military stocks as well as billions more in finance for Ukraine and replenishment of stocks for Nato allies.

The Pentagon said last week it had exported dozens of M777 howitzers and the 155mm rounds that go with them to Ukraine, with US troops providing training at undisclosed sites outside Ukraine’s borders.

Mr Biden was due to visit a Lockheed Martin manufacturing plant on Tuesday that makes Javelin missiles, another element of the hardware sent by the US as well as anti-aircraft Stinger systems, ammunition and body armour.

Other countries

Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said on Monday that the country would consider sending heavy weapons to Ukraine in addition to the 4,000 anti-tank weapons and 100 air defence missiles it has already shipped.

The Dutch defence ministry announced last week that a "limited number" of self-propelled howitzers with a 155m gun, the heaviest weapon in the Dutch army, would be shipped to Ukraine but would first require training outside the country.

Denmark has promised another $90m in military support to Ukraine, which local media said would include M113 armed personnel carriers as well as anti-tank mines and mortar shells.

Updated: May 03, 2022, 10:17 AM
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