France's Macron visits military sites, touts arms production

PARIS (AP) — In a show of France’s military prowess, President Emmanuel Macron visited a Caesar cannon firing range and missile testing facility Thursday alongside his army minister.

The Elysee presidential palace said the presidential visit to the test center of the General Directorate of Armaments and to see ammunition manufacturing activities on the Nexter Arrowtech site -- both in the Cher region of central France -- is aimed to remind military “manufacturers of the objective of producing enough, more quickly and at controlled prices.”

It comes four months after Macron set out the need to adapt the French military to new conditions amid war in Europe.

In June, the French leader ordered his armed forces ministers to reassess military strategy and weapon manufacturing because of “this high-intensity war that has returned to European soil.” He said that France must increase its military capacity and speed.

Macron’s rhetoric and visit in Cher highlights the dilemma of many NATO members, who have sent billions of dollars worth of arms to Ukraine to help the war effort -- yet are well-aware the need to be prepared themselves if Russia targets them next.

Weapons shortages across Europe, including in France, could force hard choices for Ukraine’s allies.

Earlier this month, France pledged air defense systems to protect Ukrainian cities against drone strikes, as well as an expanded training program for Ukrainian soldiers, as it seeks to puncture perceptions that Macron’s centrist government has lagged in supporting Ukraine militarily against the Russian invasion.

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The Associated Press