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27 Mar, 2024 10:47

Macron struggling to justify cash for Ukraine – Le Monde

The French leader’s pledge to Kiev has turned into a “budgetary and political headache,” the newspaper has said
Macron struggling to justify cash for Ukraine – Le Monde

It is “extremely unclear” how France can fulfill promises by President Emmanuel Macron to supply more military aid to Ukraine, as the government in Paris is currently struggling with plans for spending cuts, Le Monde has reported.

French authorities are looking to save €10 billion ($10.8 billion) this year amid a budget deficit of €144.5 billion ($156 billion) and a 2024 growth forecast reduced to just 1%.

The French government said last month that the €10 billion cut could, among other things, be achieved by reducing the expenses of all its ministries and slicing public policies, including development aid and subsidies for building renovation.

In such circumstances, the pledge by Macron to provide €3 billion in support for Kiev this year to aid in the conflict with Russia – made when France and Ukraine signed a 10-year bilateral security pact in mid-February – has turned into a “budgetary and political headache” for his government, Le Monde reported on Tuesday.

Lawmakers from Macron’s ruling Renaissance party say they regularly face questions from voters who cannot understand how the government can provide billions to Ukraine while planning spending cuts at home, the paper said.

“People ask us why we’re giving €3 billion to Ukraine, it’s a lot of money,” Renaissance MP Mathieu Lefevre was quoted as saying.

Le Monde suggested that in order to fulfill their promise to Kiev, the authorities in Paris would have to “play with the paperwork,” such as including France’s €900 million contribution to the European Peace Facility, an EU fund to aid Ukraine, in the €3 billion sum.

Another option might be to increase the value of the equipment donated to the Ukrainian government.

The outlet added, however, that Macron’s cabinet would likely still be forced to make amendments to the finance bill (PLFR) in the summer, despite such a move being “politically inflammable.” It would require approval from the National Assembly, where opposition parties object to further funding for Kiev.

Despite the issues outlined by Le Monde, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu stated on Tuesday that Paris will soon be able to deliver 78 more Caesar howitzers to Kiev, while boosting the supply of shells to the country.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons to Kiev by the US, the EU, and their allies will not prevent Russia from achieving the goals of its military operation, and that they potentially increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.