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21 Mar, 2024 20:45

Macron believes Ukraine could fall soon – Politico

The French president reportedly voiced the sentiment at an Elysee Palace dinner
Macron believes Ukraine could fall soon – Politico

French President Emmanuel Macron believes Ukraine might be defeated on the battlefield in short order, the French edition of Politico reported on Wednesday.

The outlet’s Playbook section spoke with several members of the president’s party who had attended a working dinner at the Elysee Palace the evening before. While most of the discussion centered on the upcoming European Parliament elections, the Ukraine conflict also came up.

“Ukraine could fall very quickly,” one of the outlet’s sources quoted Macron as saying.

Macron ramped up his rhetoric about Ukraine a few weeks after a number of French nationals fighting on behalf of Kiev were killed in a Russian missile strike. At a meeting of EU leaders in Paris in late February, he refused to rule out the possibility of a NATO intervention in Ukraine. 

Though the idea was quickly rejected by almost all members of the US-led bloc and its secretary-general, Macron doubled down, declaring there would be “no limits” to French support for Kiev and calling Russia an “adversary.” Meanwhile, the French Army’s Chief of Staff Pierre Schill announced that the country’s military was “ready,” presumably for a war.

Moscow has strongly condemned Macron’s remarks and cautioned NATO against taking further hostile moves. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the deployment of Western soldiers to Ukraine would make direct conflict with Russia “inevitable.”

Marine Le Pen, a prominent member of the opposition National Rally party and Macron’s rival in the 2022 election, accused the president last week of “hijacking” the Ukraine issue for the sake of domestic electoral politics. Polls have shown that the French support helping Kiev with weapons and money, but draw the line at getting involved directly with boots on the ground.

Concerns that Kiev might be losing the war appear to be based on several French military assessments leaked earlier this month to the outlet Marianne. One report, following Kiev’s summer offensive, concluded that Ukraine could not win the conflict by military means. Another described the Battle of Avdeevka as a Ukrainian rout and had the French military “in cold sweat,” according to Marianne. 

A few days later, the daily Le Monde claimed that Macron’s talk of possibly sending troops dated all the way back to June 2023, when the Ukrainian counteroffensive was just starting. General Schill also told the outlet that Macron’s public statements have been “foremost a political and strategic message” to Russia about France’s “will and commitment,” rather than an actual escalation.