France to hold parliamentary debate on Ukraine support amid backlash

France to hold parliamentary debate on Ukraine support amid backlash |

France’s government announced it will hold a parliamentary debate on the situation in Ukraine, with President Emmanuel Macron under heavy fire after he claimed on Monday (26 February) that no options – including sending troops on the ground – should be excluded in ensuring Ukraine’s victory against Russia.

France’s Elysée announced on Tuesday (27 February) that it will put a declaration to the National Assembly that will “relate to the bilateral agreement concluded with Ukraine on 16 February 2024, and the situation in Ukraine”. The declaration, the date for which has not yet been set, will be followed by a debate and a vote.

It is not the first time the government has addressed lawmakers on the war in Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. However, this time it comes in a context of a French parliament that is more fractured than ever, with no pro-Macron absolute majority, and a hovering sentiment that France has not done all it could to best support Ukraine financially and militarily.

After the Paris Ukraine Summit on Monday, 27 different nations pledged to “deploy and mobilise more financing” to buy third-country ammunitions in response to Ukraine’s most pressing artillery needs, Macron said at a press conference.

However, “there is no consensus at this stage […] to send troops on the ground,” Macron told reporters. “Nothing should be excluded. We will do everything that we must so that Russia does not win.”

He did not clarify whether, and which, countries would consider taking such a step, embracing what he called “strategic ambiguity”.

This was quickly met with a torrent of political backlash from both sides of the aisle. Political leaders called the comments “hazardous”, warning this could trigger an unwanted escalation in geopolitical tensions, and asked for an immediate parliamentary debate.

France to hold parliamentary debate on Ukraine support amid backlash |

France's Macron open to non-EU ammo purchases for Ukraine as Western leaders gather in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday (26 February) indicated he would be open to non-EU purchases of ammunition for Ukraine as allies agreed to ramp up efforts to deliver more shells to Kyiv in light of a serious shortage. 

Far-right, far-left in a bind

Ultimately, the vote will serve as an opportunity for all political parties to position themselves in relation to Macron’s strategy on supporting Ukraine – and should put the Rassemblement National’s (RN) own strategy to the test.

A positive vote might look like siding with the pro-Macron camp; a vote against might be taken up as sympathetic towards Putin’s Kremlin.

Le Pen’s RN, often accused of playing soft with the Kremlin, has stayed clear of supporting Putin’s aggression war in Ukraine, though it continues to side with the far-right and Russia-sympathetic German AfD party in the European Parliament.

“Emmanuel Macron is playing warlord, but it is our children’s lives he’s talking about so carelessly,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen posted on X, accusing him of waging a war against Russia that could “raise an existential risk for 70 million French people”.

The conservative Les Républicains MP Patrick Hetzel also told reporters on Tuesday that “[Macron] might be army chief, but one must be careful not to contribute, through such comments, to escalate tensions”.

The left aisle is just as outraged by Macron’s comments. “The Nation cannot go down war madness,” Mathilde Panot, far-left La France Insoumise (LFI) parliamentary group president, posted on X, claiming her party incarnated the “peace camp”.

The far-left has always been critical of Ukraine’s accession to the EU, following the start of Russia’s war. “Personally […] I have enormous reservations [with bringing Ukraine in]. We’ve suffered enough in lives shattered and jobs lost,” rising-star LFI MP François Ruffin wrote in a blogpost in January.

Meanwhile, social-democrat EU lead candidate Raphaël Glucksmann, a vocal supporter of investing more resources into defending Ukraine, warned against the possibility of sending troops over.

“Rather than talking about sending soldiers, our President should quickly send Ukrainians what they need,” he said, accusing France of “lagging behind” on ammunition delivery.

[Edited by Aurélie Pugnet/Nathalie Weatherald]

Read more with Euractiv

France to hold parliamentary debate on Ukraine support amid backlash |

EU capitals pour cold water on Macron’s ‘Western troops in Ukraine’ remarksSeveral EU capitals, including Berlin, Warsaw, and Madrid, dismissed on Tuesday (27 February) remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron, who had suggested that a future deployment of Western troops in Ukraine should not be ultimately “ruled out”. 

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