France will not follow Germany in sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, for now, citing military reasons rather than political ones. French President Emmanuel Macron has also voiced some concerns over the potential escalation of the conflict.
"The delivery is not a political, but a military problem," the French defence ministry said. On Sunday, Macron didn't rule out sending Leclerc tanks to Ukraine provided Germany sends it Leopards and the US its Abrams. The French army believes that its fleet of 226 tanks is already low. At the start of the 2000s, France had over 800 tanks ready to be deployed.
At the same meeting, Macron set out the criteria for his country to send weapons to Ukraine: the delivery must not risk escalating the conflict, the weapons need to be effective on the front and France's own defence must not be in danger.
The Leclerc tanks are similar to German Leopards, but are still not the standard type of tank used by other European armies, and according to French authorities, this would make them less useful for Kyiv.
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"It is for this reason that the Ukrainians favour the Leopard in their requests: the more their fleet will be composed of the same model, the more it will facilitate the implementation for them. And the Leopard is the tank that they are most likely to get in numbers," a French source said in Le Monde.
There are currently around 2,000 Leopard tanks used in different European armies. The French Leclercs tanks are not deployed by many countries apart from France, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
The Elysée stressed that it has already given €630 million to help Ukraine after the war began, in addition to directly donating equipment. Ukrainian military from nudging France in a playful video on Twitter, stressing that Leclercs are "compact, sporty and easy to park" and that "it's not the size that counts, it's how you use it."