France’s Macron calls on Europe to reduce reliance on the US for security | Popgen Tech
ON BOARD THE FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL PLANE—French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe must take a more assertive role within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, reduce its dependence on the US and develop its own defense capabilities, to ensure peace in a region that torn apart by the war. Ukraine.
Speaking to three reporters on his return to Paris from a summit in Amman, Jordan, Macron stressed that he did not see his drive to develop European defense as an alternative to NATO. A stronger Europe, mr. Macron said, would allow the continent to become more autonomous within the alliance, “within NATO, with NATO, but also not dependent on NATO.”
“An alliance is not something I should count on. It’s something I have to choose, something I work with,” said Mr. Macron said. “We need to rethink our strategic autonomy.”
Mr. Macron walks a delicate line. He has already angered Ukraine and some of its allies by calling on the West to provide Russia with security guarantees as part of any negotiations to end the war in Ukraine and prevent the conflict from spreading across Europe.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with President Biden at the White House and addressed a joint session of Congress. The high-profile visit is an attempt to shore up political support in the US, which has provided far more weapons to counter Russia’s invasion than any European ally.
“Europe needs to gain more autonomy over technology and defense capabilities, including from the US,” Mr. Macron said.
The war in Ukraine has largely united Western allies in opposition to Russia and highlighted the importance of NATO in protecting the continent. The US and Europe have sent forces to the alliance’s eastern flank to bolster its defenses, while also providing Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, with a stream of heavy artillery and other weapons that have allowed Kiev to seize territory to recover.
Delivering heavy artillery in large volumes to a conflict with no end in sight is an expensive endeavor. The US, France and Germany are under pressure for new production after exhausting their own stockpiles of weapons.
The cost of war to Russia and the West created an opening for diplomacy that Mr. Macron tries to open up. Mr. Macron traveled to Washington in late November for talks with Mr. Biden on the war and told French TV shortly after the meeting that the two leaders discussed the “security architecture we want to live in tomorrow.”
“This means that one of the essential points we have to address – as President Putin has always said – is the fear of NATO coming to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia,” Macron added.
Mr. On Wednesday, Macron said he supports a strategy of “absolute defense of Ukraine.” A Ukrainian victory battlefield, he said, would then have to be codified in a “new text that should christen a new order that ensures the political stability and security of this region and of Europe.”
Mr. Macron said security guarantees under this new architecture should apply to Ukraine and Russia, as well as neighbors such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia.
“When I talk about guarantees, I’m talking about all these countries, for us but also for Russia,” Mr. Macron said.
Senior Ukrainian officials have dismissed the idea that Russia needs security guarantees as an attempt to lay the groundwork for Moscow to receive concessions after launching the war. The French president’s critics say he risks bolstering one of President Vladimir Putin’s reasons for the invasion: that Russia is countering NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe.
Mr. Macron’s outreach to Mr. Putin has been a source of tension with Ukraine and its allies since the early months of the conflict when he held frequent phone calls with the Russian leader. Eastern European leaders Mr. Macron accused of appeasing Moscow after warning earlier this year to humiliate Russia.
“All the Europeans and Westerners who give me moral lessons must explain to me who will be at the negotiating table,” Mr. Macron said on Wednesday. “As for me, I don’t want it to be the Chinese and the Turks alone negotiating what’s coming.”
Write to Noemie Bisserbe at firstname.lastname@example.org and Stacy Meichtry at Stacy.Meichtry@wsj.com
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Appears in the print edition of 22 December 2022 as ‘Macron calls for more EU defense autonomy.’