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From the Élysée to the Assembly, France's support for Ukraine under debate

There are only a few days left for everyone to definitively set their positions.

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From the Élysée to the Assembly, France's support for Ukraine under debate

There are only a few days left for everyone to definitively set their positions. Next week, parliamentarians are called upon to vote on France's support plan for Ukraine, in the conflict that has pitted Moscow and kyiv for more than two years. Announced by Emmanuel Macron the day after his controversial outing on a possible sending of Western troops to reinforce Kiev, this debate followed by a vote must be held in both chambers: Tuesday in the Assembly, then Wednesday in the Senate. To allow political forces to see the conflict as clearly as possible, before demanding a public position from the national representation, the President of the Republic decided to invite to the Élysée, this Thursday morning, the all the leaders of the parties in Parliament.

Including, therefore, the Lepenist Jordan Bardella (RN) and the Melenchonist Manuel Bompard (LFI), whom he nevertheless accuses of being ideologically close to the Kremlin. Before receiving them, the Head of State also met his two predecessors, François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, on Wednesday evening. Decided under article 50-1 of the Constitution, the discussion convened in Parliament “may, if (the executive) decides, be the subject of a vote” without however “involving (the) responsibility (of government)". Even in the event of a very unlikely rejection of the support agreement for Ukraine (see opposite), nothing would force Gabriel Attal to resign. The Prime Minister can therefore approach the sequence calmly, he who will have to defend the pact signed last month by Emmanuel Macron and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, for civil and military aid over a “ten year” horizon.

Contested on certain benches, the initiative is considered “very positive” by the Renaissance deputy Benjamin Haddad, an expert on the Ukrainian subject. “The government and the majority will be able to send a message of firmness and plead to continue our support for Ukraine. On this type of subject, we are able to achieve fairly large transpartisan majorities with the Republicans, the Socialists, the Greens, etc.,” he rejoices. “The fact that there is a vote will make everyone face their responsibilities,” he warns again, before attacking the National Rally and La France insoumise on what he considers to be a “total alignment with the positions of Moscow".

The vote may well be symbolic, but it will nonetheless allow the Macron camp to split. Even if it means falling into Manichaeism, by summarizing the camp of Good to those who would vote for it after the speeches of Gabriel Attal (Prime Minister), Sébastien Lecornu (Defense) and Stéphane Séjourné (Foreign Affairs). While those who voted against would be sent back to their supposed “complacency” with Vladimir Putin’s regime. A logic that the opposition considers caricatured, even simplistic, and in which they refuse to allow themselves to be confined. “We have always been in support of Ukraine. But everything will depend on what the Prime Minister says in his speech. Will he defend an enlargement of the European Union? Will he clarify the use of the term “deterrence”?” asks Jean-Philippe Tanguy (RN).

“The terms of France's support for Ukraine are still a small subject... As the government's position changes quite regularly, it is not possible for us to position ourselves in advance,” adds the Secretary General. from the RN group, Renaud Labaye, who specifies that the words of the president this Thursday, then those of the Prime Minister next Tuesday, will be important in the decision of the Lepénists. The Insoumis have already decided. They consider that “recent declarations” by Emmanuel Macron “go well beyond the security agreements with Ukraine”. “We will be asked to validate the entire government policy on the subject. However, it is messy, confused and fluctuating,” says LFI MP Arnaud Le Gall, a specialist in international issues. Before continuing: “Emmanuel Macron’s recent statements isolate us, our allies have all rushed to contest what he says. There is no question of giving him discharge, we will therefore vote against Gabriel Attal’s declaration.”

In the other camps too, we do not hide certain reluctance regarding the positions taken by the head of state on the Ukrainian subject. “The president said some strange things. We obviously want to express unreserved support for Ukraine. But we also want to show our great vigilance, even our distrust, with regard to the Head of State, whose positions are extremely variable on the subject,” warns the president of the LR group in the Assembly, Olivier Marleix. And to continue: “During the 2022 presidential election, he portrayed himself as playing intermediary with Putin; from now on, he is the most warmonger and he is disavowed by all European heads of state.” For once, the reservations of the right are partly shared by the boss of the environmentalist deputies, Cyrielle Chatelain.

Also read: In what legal framework could France send soldiers to Ukraine?

“The president’s recent comments appear immature and inconsistent for a warlord,” she criticizes. If his group will position itself in “very clear support for Ukraine”, the Greens will display their desire to see France get out of its “energy dependence on Russian gas”, which “finances the war tanks of Vladimir Poutine". “The Prime Minister's speech will be important, because we are isolated on the international scene,” she judges. As for his PS colleague Boris Vallaud, who chairs the socialist group, he will maintain the “constant” position of his party by displaying “unwavering” support for kyiv, including through the delivery of weapons. “The war against Ukraine is the war against Europe. As long as the Ukrainians are fighting, we must be supportive,” warns the elected official from Landes. Before anticipating, with a view to the vote: “We will not deviate from our line, which is the one held by France today. But Emmanuel Macron must have a clear position and ensure the unity of all our allies.” Failing to achieve national unity.

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