France bulks up military with major cash injection of £362BN

Ukraine unleash Brit AS-90 guns on Russian forces

Emmanuel Macron’s French government has approved a key budget bill presented as the country’s biggest military spending spree in more than 50 years, underscoring the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The French will bulk up its military with a £362billion cash injection by 2030.

This is compared to £258 billion for the previous period, an increase of 30 percent.

Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu said the bill’s political, budgetary, military and technological drive is comparable to the huge push in the 1960s that saw France develop nuclear weapons, making the country one of the world’s major military powers.

Championed by French President Emmanuel Macron, the bill is set to modernise France’s nuclear arsenal, boost intelligence spending by 60 percent, double the number of military reservists, reinforce cyberdefence and develop more remote-controlled weapons.

It would also boost the arms industry’s production capacity in order to provide assistance to Ukraine and adequately supply the French military.

Lecornu said: “An issue we unfortunately rediscovered with the war in Ukraine is the issue of the ammunition stocks … We will need a ten-year period of time to upgrade all infrastructures and equipment of our military.”

Lecornu also pointed to the need for anti-drone technology and equipment as being at the heart of the government’s concerns ahead of the Paris Olympics next year and other major events.

He warned against a “terrorist threat” but also the potential “misuse” of small, civilian drones.

The budget bill will be debated in parliament in May-June with the aim of entering into force by mid-July, Lecornu said.

Macron’s centrist alliance doesn’t have a majority in either house of parliament, but military officers have long lamented shrinking armed forces spending, while conservative and far-right parties tend to support investment in defence.

Backing the plans, Renaissance deputy and chairman of the National Defence and Armed Forces Commission at the National Assembly, Thomas Gassilloud said: “This spending is necessary to deal with world’s chaos.

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“The priority is to continue to repair our armies after these thirty years of peace dividends.

“There have indeed been 30 years of peace dividends where, in the end, we thought that the great perils were over. We have not invested enough in our defence and today the priority is to continue to repair our armies.”

The war in Ukraine is prompting European countries to inflate their military budgets: “But the terrorist risk is still very important. There is also the technological race which means that we need to invest heavily to stay at the top of our game,” he continued.

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Opposing the bill, Senator Pierre Laurent said: “What shocks people is that we find resources for the army and not in areas that are vital, such as health. We should ask ourselves about our political choices.

“We are strengthening the military presence overseas, but what is the policy for creating security there? The results in this area have not been fantastic during our military interventions in Africa.

“These budget increases worry me. We have an army that is no longer defending the national territory, but preparing to take part in all the wars waged by Western armies throughout the world.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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