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5 Mar, 2024 19:37

Macron warns against Western cowardice

The French president has argued that Ukraine’s European backers will have to summon the “courage” to stand up to Russia
Macron warns against Western cowardice

French President Emmanual Macron has called on Ukraine’s European allies to show more courage as they face rising threats from “unstoppable” Russian forces.

Speaking on Tuesday to French expatriates in Prague, Macron argued that European nations must step up their support for Kiev in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “We are certainly approaching a moment in our Europe where it will be appropriate not to be a coward,” he said.

Macron traveled to the Czech capital to meet with the country’s leaders regarding Ukraine aid and a new bilateral strategic partnership. France is among more than a dozen countries that have voiced support for a Czech plan to purchase artillery shells for Kiev in various countries around the world, to counter significant ammunition shortfalls in Western Europe.

France and the Czech Republic are “well aware that war is back on our (European) soil,” Macron said. He warned that “some powers, which have become unstoppable, are extending every day their threat of attacking us even more, and that we will have to live up to history and the courage that it requires.”

The French president hosted a summit of Kiev’s allies last week in Paris and sparked controversy by saying that NATO members cannot rule out deploying soldiers in Ukraine to ensure that Russia doesn’t win the conflict. Governments across Europe reacted by denying that they had any intention of putting boots on the ground in Ukraine.

In an interview with Czech media outlets on Monday, Macron sought to explain his incendiary statement, claiming Paris isn’t yet considering any plans to send troops to Ukraine. He added that his comments were meant to trigger more debate about “everything that can be done to support Ukraine, especially on its territory.”

Macron hasn’t backed down from his position that direct deployment of ground forces might become necessary, however, later claiming his statement had been carefully measured and thought through. Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday in Prague, he insisted, “I am convinced that the clarity of these words is precisely what Europe needed.”

Czech President Petr Pavel distanced himself from the idea of sending troops to Ukraine, saying, “We haven’t talked about it at all. We’re talking about various forms of assistance.”

NATO’s European members are looking to boost their aid to Ukraine amid fears that support from the US, Kiev’s biggest donor, will dry up. Washington ran out of money for Ukraine earlier this year, after burning through $113 billion in congressionally approved aid packages. US President Joe Biden is seeking an additional $60 billion for Ukraine as part of an emergency spending bill that has stalled in Congress amid opposition from Republican lawmakers.