Deliveries of patrol boats from France to Ukraine to begin in late 2021 – ambassador
Deliveries of patrol boats to Ukraine manufactured by the French company OCEA will begin at the end of 2021, said French Ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins.
"Construction has started in France and started in Mykolaiv in Ukraine in December 2020. Deliveries will begin at the end of 2021. This is a EUR 136-million project, receiving a financial support from the French government, through a loan of the French Treasury (EUR 40 million) and Bpi France (EUR 76 million)," the ambassador said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
According to him, Nibulon is a very impressive partner. It is a young company but with very good expertise, he said.
"I was in Mykolaiv with Minister Avakov for the launching of this project, on July 22, last year. This project is very well on time. I am very sure it will also be successful. There are 20 patrol boats of 32 meters. They will bring new element of security for Ukraine because patrols are both for the rivers and the seas. Maybe you know that the structure is aluminum and this is very important element for technologies because it is lighter. As for the Helicopters, they're the state of the art," the diplomat explained.
In addition, he noted that within the framework of the contract with Airbus Helicopters SAS, it is planned to supply 27 helicopters in 2021.
"Now the contract is going full speed and this year 27 new helicopters are coming to Ukraine which is a big challenge. Because you can bring 27 helicopters but you need maintenance, place to stock helicopters, training for pilots and so on. It is easy to bring helicopters to Ukraine, but it is much more difficult to maintain them, to train the pilots. This is very complex matter. And for Ukraine it's a change of culture because former culture in this sector came from the Soviet Union. Now it is going to the West, with new standards and new language, because it is moving from Russian to English. But of course these helicopters are more modern and efficient. With them Ukraine enters in the 21st century," he said.
De Poncins added that helicopters will make a big difference for example in the fight against forest fires.
"With new helicopters, firemen will be much more efficient and stand for civil security for example when there are road accidents to bring people to hospitals. If you have good helicopters working days and nights that is making big difference for Ukraine and it can save lives," he explained.
According to the ambassador, the contract for the purchase of freight locomotives between Ukrzaliznytsia and the French company Alstom has not been finalized yet, but if President Macron arrives in Ukraine, this agreement will be in the program of his visit.
"This project will foresee the delivery by the French company Alstom of 50 to 80 multi-system electric locomotives to the Ukrainian Railways, Ukrzaliznytsia. These e-locos are planned to be deployed for operations on Ukrainian Railways' major freight routes across the country," the diplomat noted.
De Poncins added that this contract is evidence of a high element of cooperation.
"If it is finalized, it's going to be a real and very strong partnership between France and Ukraine in this key area of rail transportation. The agreement will be supported by very important and interesting loan from the French Treasury, in accordance to OECD rules. So, financial dimension is very significant. It is also a signal that Ukraine is important for France because we don't provide this kind of financial instrument for all countries because it's expensive for French Treasury. We have provided this special loan because it's Ukraine and your country is an important partner for France," he said.