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13 Mar, 2024 13:56

Macron ‘hijacked’ Russia-Ukraine conflict – Le Pen

A new pact between Paris and Kiev is only to allow the president score political points, the National Rally politician has claimed
Macron ‘hijacked’ Russia-Ukraine conflict – Le Pen

French National Rally party politician has lashed out at president Emmanuel Macron after legislators voted in favor of a 10-year security pact with Ukraine. The president's party described the non-binding vote as a means of forcing his left- and right-wing opponents to take a public stance on military aid to Kiev.

The deal was passed with 372 votes to 99, and 148 MPs abstaining. Jean-Luc Melenchon’s left-wing France Unbowed party voted against the pact, while Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally abstained.

“Either we’re in favor of Macron, or we’re accused of being pro-[Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Le Pen declared in parliament, accusing the government of “hijacking, exploiting and instrumentalizing a major international crisis for a short-term electoral agenda.” 

Le Pen and Melenchon have both argued against Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the EU, and the two leaders have opposed economic sanctions on Moscow and the delivery of heavy weapons to Kiev.

Le Pen’s party is leading Macron’s by 13 points ahead of June’s European elections, according to a Le Monde poll published on Tuesday. In the run-up to the elections, the French president has attempted to portray his right-wing rival as a pro-Kremlin stooge. 

“The National Rally has always opposed sanctions and military aid to Ukraine. If they had been in power, they would’ve let Russia win,” spokesman Haddad told Politico on Tuesday.

The pact in question was signed by Macron and his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, during the latter’s visit to Paris last month. Mirroring similar deals signed by Ukraine with Germany, the UK, and Italy, it includes commitments by Paris to back Kiev’s accession to NATO, train its soldiers, and send €3 billion in aid over the rest of 2024.

While the pact has already been signed into law, Macron’s Renaissance party brought it before parliament for a symbolic vote on Tuesday to “clarify” each party’s stance on continued aid, party spokesman Benjamin Haddad told FranceInfo.

In a speech before the vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal claimed that a Russian victory in Ukraine would pose a “real, tangible danger” to “everyday life for the French people.” Targeting the National Rally specifically, Attal declared that “to abstain is to flee before your responsibility to history and to betray what is dearest to us.”

Macron and his allies “seem to have decided to run a campaign based on fear rather than on ideas,” political analysis site EuroIntelligence wrote last week, adding that French voters are more concerned about immigration, agricultural policy, and law and order – issues that they rate Le Pen higher on – than the conflict in Ukraine.