Macron proposes major boost to French defense spending amid Ukraine war
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to significantly increase France’s military budget by a third to prepare the nuclear-armed country for new threats posed by the war in Ukraine and other global challenges.
Macron unveiled plans Friday for a funding boost of €413 billion that would be used toward modernizing France’s armed forces in the 2024-2030 period, up from €295 billion in the previous budget.
“After having repaired the armed forces, we will transform them. But we must also be prepared to transform ourselves, we need to be ready for more brutal, more numerous and more ambiguous wars,” he told officers gathered at an air base in southwestern France.
The extra funding would be allocated to a wide range of areas including boosting air-defense systems, drone fleets, nuclear dissuasion infrastructure and intelligence-gathering.
“We need to be one war ahead,” Macron said.
France has increased its military budget in recent years, but Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has raised questions over its defense capacities, in particular its readiness for high intensity conflicts and its adaptability to new types of warfare including drone technology and cyberattacks.
France is the world’s third biggest arms exporter but has provided much-needed weapons to Ukraine on a more limited scale than expected, often citing issues with maintaining stocks. Macron has given Ukraine a range of weapons, including Caesar truck-mounted howitzer and AMX-10 RC armored vehicles, and is now under pressure to provide Leclerc battle tanks.
Friday’s speech came as defense officials from the U.S., Germany, France and others were meeting in Ramstein, Germany, to discuss further support for Ukraine.
Under the new plans, which have yet to be submitted to parliament, the budget for military intelligence would increase by close to 60 percent, in order to prepare the country for unforeseen threats, Macron said. In March last year, the head of France’s military intelligence resigned over failing to predict that Russia would launch a full-scale invasion against Ukraine.