The French defence ministry said it will hold talks with its Ukrainian counterpart to arrange for the delivery of armoured combat vehicles – in what France’s presidency says will be the first time this type of Western-made wheeled tank destroyer will be given to the Ukrainian military.
Discussions will include the delivery timetable and the training of Ukrainian soldiers on the equipment, the ministry said.
Designated as “light tanks” in French, the AMX-10 RC carries a 105mm cannon and two machine guns.
It is primarily designed for reconnaissance missions and has enough armour to protect against light infantry weapons, according to the French defence ministry.
They have wheels rather than tracks, allowing it to be more mobile than heavy tanks.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky took to Twitter to thank France for the weapons and “intensifying work with partners in the same direction”.
Ukraine has for months sought to be supplied with heavier tanks, including the US Abrams and the German Leopard 2 tanks.
France’s decision was announced after an hour-long call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr Zelensky on Wednesday afternoon.
The Elysee declined to provide details about the agreement.
The AMX-10 RC has been in service with the French military since 1981 and has undergone recent upgrades.
France’s defence ministry said the combat vehicle is now being gradually replaced by the new equivalent named Jaguar.
The decision is another in France’s military support to Ukraine, following the French defence minister’s visit to Kyiv last week.
Paris has supplied Ukraine with a substantial chunk of its arsenal of Caesar cannons, as well as anti-tank missiles, Crotale air defence missile batteries and rocket launchers.
It is also training some 2,000 Ukrainian troops on French soil.
US President Joe Biden said his administration is considering sending Ukraine Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a medium-armoured combat vehicle which can serve as a troop carrier.
Mr Biden was asked during an exchange with reporters while travelling in Kentucky if providing the tracked armoured vehicle to Ukraine is on the table.
He responded: “Yes.”
The German government has for months faced calls from Kyiv and some politicians at home to deliver Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine, but has said it will not go alone with such a move and no other country has supplied similar Western equipment.
The co-leader of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, Saskia Esken, told n-tv television on Thursday that Mr Scholz and the government are in regular and close contact “with our partners, with our friends, of course particularly with the Americans” on weapons deliveries.
Britain says it has given Ukraine more than 200 armoured vehicles for troop transport but no tanks yet.