War in Ukraine: Emmanuel Macron calls for a “start” to ensure Russia’s “defeat”

Volodymyr Zelensky was not in Paris on Monday February 26 for the summit organized in support of Ukraine, but his words, from a distance, resonated in the Elysée

War in Ukraine: Emmanuel Macron calls for a “start” to ensure Russia’s “defeat”

Volodymyr Zelensky was not in Paris on Monday February 26 for the summit organized in support of Ukraine, but his words, from a distance, resonated in the Elysée. During the day, the Ukrainian president deplored having “unfortunately” received only 30% of the “million shells that the European Union” (EU) had “promised” to his country.

“It is clear that we did not have this million,” admitted Emmanuel Macron in the evening, referring to a “reckless commitment” by the EU, during a press conference closing this international meeting organized by the president. French.

“We are certainly at the moment of a surge which is necessary on the part of all of us,” he said at the opening of this summit in front of several European heads of state and government, including the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the presidents of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and Slovakia, Robert Fico, as well as the head of British diplomacy, David Cameron, and American and Canadian representatives.

However, “we are convinced that the defeat of Russia is essential for security and stability in Europe,” insisted Emmanuel Macron. He listed several measures to amplify the effort in favor of the Ukrainian army, at a time when the conflict has just entered its third year and when American aid, crucial for kyiv, is blocked in Congress by the Republicans of Donald Trump.

Creation of a coalition for the purchase of ammunition outside Europe

The French president spoke of a commitment to “produce more” European weapons, and announced the creation of a “deep strike coalition” to provide Kiev with “medium and medium-sized missiles and bombs.” Long range ". He also explained that “many European and non-European countries, which have ammunition available” had been “approached”.

According to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, around fifteen countries have said they are ready to join a Prague initiative for the EU to buy munitions outside Europe to better support the Ukrainian war effort. “This is a very strong message sent to Russia,” he said. France will participate, while the Dutch Prime Minister (resigned), Mark Rutte, mentioned a contribution from his country of “more than 100 million euros” to this Czech plan.

The countries represented at the Elysée must now meet with French defense and foreign ministers to “operationally decline” these initiatives. “In ten days, we will have a clear answer with a serious agenda,” promised Emmanuel Macron, who must go to Ukraine by mid-March.

No “consensus” on sending Western troops

Above all, the French president was more offensive than ever when he was questioned about the possibility that Western countries would decide to send troops to Ukrainian soil – an option mentioned, to denounce it, by the Slovak Prime Minister .

“There is no consensus today to send ground troops in an official, assumed and endorsed manner. But in dynamics, nothing should be excluded. We will do everything necessary to ensure that Russia cannot win this war,” said Emmanuel Macron.

The Head of State did not wish to say more about France's position on this issue, citing a "strategic ambiguity that I accept." But “I absolutely did not say that France was not in favor of it,” he warned. “I will not remove the ambiguity of tonight’s proceedings by naming names. I’m saying it was discussed among the options,” he added. This hypothesis had, until then, never been mentioned by Paris.

“Many people who say “Never, never” today were the same people who said “Never tanks, never planes, never long-range missiles” two years ago, explained Emmanuel Macron. Let us have the humility to note that we have often been six to twelve months late. This was the objective of this evening's discussion: anything is possible if it is useful to achieve our goal. »

“War against Russia would be madness,” reacted, on the X platform, the leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, judging Mr. Macron’s statements “irresponsible.” The first secretary of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, denounced a “worrying presidential levity” on the same social network: “Support the Ukrainian resistance, yes. Go to war with Russia and drag the continent away. Madness. »

“A hardening of Russia”

Since receiving Volodymyr Zelensky ten days ago at the Elysée to sign a bilateral security agreement, the French head of state has painted a very dark picture of Vladimir Putin's intentions and has tried to position himself on the front line of the support provided to Kiev. “We are seeing, and especially in recent months, a hardening of Russia”, “which was unfortunately cruelly illustrated with the death of Alexeï Navalny”, the main Russian opponent, he reaffirmed on Monday.

He also reported a “consensus” among many European leaders and personalities on the fact “that within a few years, we had to prepare for Russia to attack” their countries.

“On the Ukrainian front, positions are becoming increasingly harsh and we also know that Russia is preparing new attacks, in particular to stun Ukrainian public opinion,” he warned.

The Ukrainians have been accumulating setbacks in the East for several weeks, notably with the loss more than a week ago of the fortress town of Avdiïvka, and, on Monday, their withdrawal from the nearby village of Lastochkyne.

For the French presidency, the Paris conference therefore aimed to “contradict the impression that things are falling apart, to reaffirm that we are not tired and that we are determined to thwart Russian aggression.” Mr. Macron nevertheless recalled that Ukraine's allies were "not at war with the Russian people", but that they "simply did not want to let them win in Ukraine".