Macron Will Push NATO For ‘Concrete’ Security Guarantee for Ukraine
With alliance membership still unsure, French president wants the next best thing.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—NATO is unlikely to vote to admit Ukraine as a member when the alliance summit convenes in July, but it ought to offer the beleaguered country “concrete and tangible security guarantees,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.
“I'm not sure we will have a consensus…for full-fledged membership. Let's be clear,” Macron, who just weeks ago declared France’s support for Ukraine’s path to membership, conceded at the GLOBSEC Security Forum here.
But he said that NATO should work instead to cement a more modest guarantee of support.
“I think we have to build something between the security provided to Israel and a full fledged membership,” he said. “I think we need to talk concrete and tangible security guarantees.”
Revisiting his 2019 comments that NATO was essentially “brain dead, Macron said the alliance had been revived by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though some members are still not as awake to the threat as they need to be.
“I think NATO clearly had a wake-up call by, by Russia,” he said. “Are the issues I raised a few years ago solved and fixed with the current context? No….NATO needs a stronger Europe to protect itself…We have to clarify with some of our members because some members of NATO still don't implement sanctions [on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine] and sometimes help to alleviate the burden for the Russians. I'm not sure it's perfectly consistent with the NATO approach.”
NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu described NATO’s reaction to Russia’s wider invasion Ukraine in February 2022.
“Within hours, we activated our defence plans from the Baltic to the Black Sea, putting 40,000 troops under NATO command, backed by significant air and maritime capabilities. We doubled the number of battle groups in the east of the Alliance from four to eight, and are exercising to reinforce them up to brigade level, to deter any aggression. We currently have around 45,000 troops under NATO command, backed by significant air and maritime capabilities,” Lungescu said.
On Wednesday, Macron was asked whether France would help lead global support for Ukraine if the next U.S. president is less supportive of Ukraine than President Biden.
Biden is running for reelection; his potential opponents include Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, who has taken multiple positions on Ukraine; and former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has called Ukraine “corrupt” and was impeached for attempting to coerce political favors from Ukraine’s leaders in exchange for U.S. aid.)
Macron praised the consistency of the Biden administration on Ukraine, but said France cannot assume that Biden’s approach to European security affairs would always be the norm.
“Whatever happens, we [France] have to increase our commitments, our investments, and our involvement,” he said. “And, de facto the law we are passing in France for our defense is an increase of 100 billion euro of our war and defensive effort. So yes, we are ready.”
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