French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that Ukraine must win the war against Russia, as he visited the town of Irpin outside the capital Kyiv.
“France has been alongside Ukraine since day one. We stand with the Ukrainians without ambiguity. Ukraine must resist and win,” Macron told journalists in Irpin in response to a question on his previous remarks that Russia must not be humiliated.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for “new in-depth discussions” with Ukraine, without confirming if he would travel this week to Kyiv as several media have reported.
“At the gates of our European Union, an unprecedented geopolitical situation is playing out,” he said after meeting French troops stationed in Romania.
“The political context and the decisions that the European Union and several nations will have to take justify new in-depth discussions and new progress.”
“We, the European Union, need to send clear political signals to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, who have been resisting heroically for several months,” said Macron, speaking alongside Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
He added the discussion should be “of a new nature”, including on military equipment, financing and unblocking shipments of Ukraine wheat affected by Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, which started in February.
Macron arrived on Tuesday in NATO member Romania. He had dinner with French soldiers on the Mihail Kogalniceanu base near the Black Sea and decided to spend the night in a tent instead of a hotel, according to his Elysee office.
On Wednesday, he had breakfast with soldiers before meeting Iohannis for more than an hour.
Later Wednesday, Macron will travel to Moldova for talks with President Maia Sandu in the capital Chisinau.
Macron — who will be the first French president to visit Moldova since Jacques Chirac in 1998 — has met Sandu three times since February 2021 in Paris and has developed “a relationship of trust” with the pro-European president, according to the Elysee.
Macron will pledge France’s support “in the most direct way possible” to the former Soviet republic wedged between Romania and Ukraine.
Hundreds of thousands Ukrainians have crossed into Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries with a population of 2.6 million. Most have moved on to other countries.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for a boost to defence budgets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying France was now on a “war economy” footing.
Speaking at Eurosatory, a weapons industry fair, Macron said Europe needed “a much larger defence industry” to avoid relying on suppliers elsewhere for its equipment needs.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, France “has entered into a war economy in which I believe we will find ourselves for a long time”.
Macron said he had asked the defence ministry and armed forces chiefs of staff to adjust a six-year framework defence spending plan running to 2025 to the new geopolitical situation, to “match the means to the threats”.
Even before Ukraine, French military spending had gradually increased since Macron came to power in 2017 to reach 41 billion euros ($43 billion) this year, and is currently scheduled to hit 50 billion euros in 2025.
“We didn’t wait for strategic changes to re-invest,” Macron said, but Russia’s war had created “an additional need to move faster and become stronger at a lower cost”.
Macron said that “anybody doubting the urgency of these efforts only needs to look to Ukraine, where soldiers are asking for quality weaponry and they are entitled to a response from us”.
According to Le Monde newspaper, the government’s armament agency DGA is considering a draft law that would allow the requisitioning of civilian equipment or civilian factories to make weapons.
As European governments bolster defence budgets, they need a larger EU-based defence industry to meet the new military needs, Macron said.
“Let’s not repeat the errors of the past going forward,” he said. “Spending large sums on purchases from elsewhere is not a good idea.”
Europe needs a defence industry that is “much stronger and much more ambitious” than now, he said, “or we will create our own future dependencies”.
A European fighter plan project is, according to experts, currently running about a decade late, while a new French-German battle tank project, MGCS, is not expected to be operational for nearly another two decades.
The UAE’s new president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held talks Sunday with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as world leaders streamed in to Abu Dhabi to pay tribute to his predecessor.
Macron, who was re-elected this month, expressed his condolences to Sheikh Mohamed following the death of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa, who died on Friday following a long illness.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US Vice President Kamala Harris, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog are also expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi, capital of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, on Sunday and Monday.
Sheikh Mohamed, the UAE’s long-time de facto ruler during Sheikh Khalifa’s illness, was chosen to lead the desert state in a unanimous vote by leaders of the country’s seven emirates on Saturday.
Often known by his initials “MBZ”, took a leading role after Sheikh Khalifa retreated from public view in 2014, when he had surgery after a stroke. The cause of his death was not announced.
Presidents and monarchs from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Oman and Tunisia, and Sudan’s de facto leader, were among a long line of dignitaries to offer their condolences on Saturday.
Close ally Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, called to congratulate the new president and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to commend his “dynamic and visionary leadership”.
Both Macron and Johnson are making their second visits to Abu Dhabi in recent months. Johnson’s visit in March failed to convince the UAE and Saudi Arabia to pump more oil after Russia’s war in Ukraine sent markets into turmoil.
The UAE signed a 14-billion-euro contract for 80 Rafale warplanes during Macron’s previous visit in December.
UAE relations with the United States have become strained under President Joe Biden, with the two sides at odds over Abu Dhabi’s close ties with Russia and Washington’s reopening of nuclear talks with Iran, long accused by Gulf states of creating regional chaos.
The wealthy UAE has emerged as a leader of a reshaped Middle East, forging ties with Israel and joining a Saudi-led war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated French President, Emmanuel Macron on winning a second term in office.
President Buhari said that the French President’s victory makes history as the only sitting leader of the country to return in two decades.
The President affirmed that the iconic leadership style of the French President, who spent six months in Nigeria working as an intern at the French Embassy in 2002, continues to inspire a new generation of leaders and interest in politics and governance, starting from his country and beyond.
President Buhari noted the warmth and friendliness that has redefined Nigeria/France relations since President Macron assumed office in 2017, paying an official visit to Nigeria in 2018, and consistently creating lines for improved ties in economy, culture, and security, which has culminated in France-Nigeria Business Council, African Cultures Season in 2020, and the France-Africa Summit.
He also congratulated the French President’s wife, Brigitte Macron, friends, and political associates on the historic feat, assuring President Macron of Nigeria’s support as he continues with his advocacy of humanizing policies, promoting peace, and stability, and encouraging development through innovation.
He wished Macron God’s guidance and wisdom for the second term in office.
She joined other challengers eliminated in the first round in calling for a new effort to hinder the president’s second term at June parliamentary polls.
“This evening, we launch the great battle for the legislative elections,” Le Pen said, saying she felt “hope” and calling on opponents of the president to join with her National Rally (RN) party.
Both candidates had sought to rally supporters of hard-left chief Jean-Luc Melenchon to their side in the second-round run-off, after he came close to edging Le Pen out of the showdown with incumbent Macron.
Le Pen managed to win over a razor-thin majority of working-class voters to her cause, an election-day survey of almost 6,000 people by pollsters Opinionway found, while Macron enjoyed a comfortable lead among other social categories.
Her strong showing Sunday was another illustration of the erosion of the traditional “republican front” of mainstream voters against France’s far right.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday congratulated French president Emmanuel Macron on his election victory over far-right opponent Marine Le Pen.
“Looking forward to continuing our work together on the issues that matter most to people in Canada and France — from defending democracy, to fighting climate change, to creating good jobs and economic growth for the middle class,” Trudeau said on Twitter.
French voters began casting their ballots Sunday for the presidential run-off between centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron and his challenger Marine Le Pen, after a fractious campaign that has seen the far-right come its closest yet to winning power.
Macron went into the election with a stable lead in opinion polls, an advantage he consolidated in the frenetic final days of campaigning, including a no-holds-barred performance in the pre-election debate.
But analysts have cautioned that Macron, who rose to power in 2017 aged 39 as the country’s youngest-ever modern leader, can take nothing for granted given forecasts of low turnout that could sway the result in either direction.
He must above all hope that left-wing voters who backed other candidates in the first round on April 10 will back the former investment banker and his pro-business, reformist agenda to stop Le Pen and her populist programme.
Voting stations will close at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT), when preliminary results will be released that usually predict the final result with a high degree of accuracy.
Some 48.7 million French are eligible to vote.
To take account of the time difference with mainland France, polls opened earlier in overseas territories, home to almost three million French.
The first vote in the election was cast midday on Saturday, Paris time, by a 90-year-old man in the tiny island territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, off the northern coast of Canada.
Polls subsequently opened in France’s islands in the Caribbean and the South American territory of French Guiana, followed by territories in the Pacific and then the Indian Ocean.
Macron himself repeatedly made clear that the complacency of stay-at-home voters precipitated the shocks of the 2016 elections that led to Brexit in Britain and Donald Trump’s election in the United States.
Analysts say abstention rates could reach 26 to 28 percent, though the 1969 record for a second-round abstention rate of 31.1 percent is not expected to be beaten.
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who scored a close third-place finish in the first-round vote, has pointedly refused to urge his millions of followers to back Macron while insisting they should not vote for Le Pen.
Another factor is that elections are being held in the midst of the Easter school break in much of France.
According to Martial Foucault, director of the CEVIPOF political studies centre, a high abstention rate will narrow the gap between Macron and Le Pen, describing this as a “real risk” for the president.
Early turnout indications will be closely watched from the overseas territories, where average incomes are lower than in mainland France and which generally backed Melenchon in the first round.
In New Caledonia, for example, turnout at midday was just 18.2 percent. In mainland France, the first turnout estimation will be published at 12:00 pm.
The stakes are huge for both France and Europe, with Macron pledging reform and tighter EU integration while Le Pen, who would be France’s first female president, insists the bloc should be modified in what opponents describe as “Frexit” by another name.
Macron has also opposed Le Pen’s plan to make it illegal to wear the Muslim headscarf in public, though her team has walked back on the proposal ahead of the vote, saying it was no longer a “priority.”
They have also clashed on Russia, with Macron seeking to portray Le Pen as incapable of dealing with the invasion of Ukraine due to a loan her party took from a Russian-Czech bank.
Macron would be the first French president to win re-election in two decades since Jacques Chirac in 2002.
If elected, he is expected to address supporters on the Champ de Mars in central Paris at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
Polls have shown Macron with a lead of around 10 percentage points, a much closer outcome than in 2017, when the same two candidates faced off and Macron carried the day with 66 percent of the vote.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Monday kicked off a final fortnight of bruising campaigning for the French presidency in a run-off that polls predict risks being tight.
With 97 percent votes counted, Macron came in first in Sunday’s first round of voting with 27.6 percent of the vote. Le Pen was second with 23.4 percent.
As the top two finishers, they advance to a second-round on April 24.
Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon came close to beating Le Pen for the second spot after a late surge gave him a score of just under 22 percent.
The duel between Macron and Le Pen is a re-run of the 2017 election final from which Macron emerged victorious with 66 percent. But this time polls predict a closer contest.
“Make no mistake: nothing is decided,” Macron told cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters Sunday night. “The debate that we are going to have over the next fortnight will be decisive for our country and Europe.”
Macron said he would be out campaigning on Monday in northern France, while Le Pen is set to meet her campaign team before resuming her months-long grassroots efforts in small towns and rural France later in the week.
“A sad repetition,” left-leaning daily Liberation called the Macron-Le Pen duel on Monday, adding: “This time it’s really scary.”
The candidates from France’s traditional parties of government — the Socialists and the Republicans — meanwhile suffered humiliating defeats.
Polls gauging second-round voting intentions mostly point to around 53 percent for Macron and 47 percent for Le Pen. One poll, however, by the Ifop-Fiducial group suggested Macron could have only a razor-thin win with 51 percent versus 49 percent.
– ‘Fundamental choice’ – As well as campaigning on the merits of their respective programmes, both candidates will also scramble to woo voters of their defeated first-round rivals.
In a boost for the president, Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel, Socialist Anne Hidalgo, Yannick Jadot of the Greens and right-wing Republicans candidate Valerie Pecresse said they would vote for him to prevent the far-right leader from coming to power.
Without backing Macron, Melenchon in a crucial move also told his supporters not to give a “single vote” to Le Pen.
But Le Pen’s far-right rival Eric Zemmour, who garnered just over 7 percent on Sunday, has already thrown his weight behind her and Macron can expect to pick up many centre-left and centre-right votes he may struggle to persuade Melenchon voters to back him, analysts said.
Le Pen, 53, said the run-off would present “a fundamental choice between two visions”. It would be a “choice of society and even of civilisation”, she said.
The election campaign has been overshadowed by the war in Ukraine, with surging prices of everyday goods making the cost of living key issues.
The vote’s outcome will have major implications for the European Union, which Le Pen says she wants to radically reform. She has also said she wants to pull out of NATO’s joint military command.
Macron countered Sunday that he did not want a France which “once out of Europe, would only have the international alliance of populists and xenophobes as allies. That’s not us.”
A pivotal moment in the next stage of the campaign will come on April 20 when the two candidates are set to take part in a TV debate broadcast live on national television which often has a crucial impact on the final outcome.
While her opponents accuse her of being divisive and racist, Le Pen has sought to project a more moderate image in this campaign and has focused on voters’ daily worries over inflation.
But Macron is expected to target her past proximity with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, her policies on the EU, as well as the cost of her economic programme that includes massive tax cuts.
– ‘New method’ – A win would give Macron, who came to power in 2017 aged 39 as France’s youngest president, five more years to push through reforms that would include raising the pension age to 65 from 62 and enacting further tax cuts for businesses.
He also floated the idea Sunday night of a “large movement of political unity and action” and a “new method” of governing, which could see him invite rival parties to formally join his political movement.
Among the other candidates, Sunday’s vote spelled humiliation for Socialist Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, who won only 1.7 percent, a historic low for the party which only a decade ago won the presidency.
The vote for the right-wing Republican party, headed by nominee Valerie Pecresse, also collapsed to an estimated 4.8 percent, down from 20 percent in 2017.
“The traditional parties have been smashed,” said Jerome Jaffre, a political scientist at Sciences Po university in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron believes “the worst is to come” in Ukraine after a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who appears intent on seizing “the whole” of the country, an aide to the French leader said.
“The expectation of the president is that the worst is to come, given what President Putin told him,” a senior aide to the French leader told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“There was nothing in what President Putin told us that should reassure us. He showed great determination to continue the operation,” the aide added, adding that Macron told Putin he was making a “grave mistake”.
The French leader himself later tweeted that in the conversation Putin showed he “refuses… to stop his attacks against Ukraine”.
But the 44-year-old, who was at the heart of diplomatic efforts to avoid the conflict and has stayed in touch with Putin even after the invasion, vowed to continue contacts “to avoid the worst”.
“My determination is and will remain total,” he said just hours before he is expected to confirm he is running in presidential elections next month.
In a grim assessment of the 90-minute talks, the third time they have spoken since last Thursday, the aide indicated that Putin had shown no mood for compromise.
Putin “wanted to seize control of the whole of Ukraine. He will, in his own words, carry out his operation to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine to the end.”
In response to Putin’s claim of “de-Nazification”, Macron replied that “either you are telling yourself stories or you’re looking for a pretext,”, according to his aide.
“In any case, what you’re saying does not match with reality and can in no way justify the violence of what you’re doing today, nor that your country is going to pay a very high price because it will end up an isolated, weakened country under sanctions for a long time,” Macron continued.
The aide said that Macron had also called Putin’s claims “lies”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the country’s first Jewish leader.
Reprising a theme of their last call, Macron also urged Putin to avoid civilian casualties and allow for humanitarian access in Ukraine amid evidence of Russian shelling in residential areas.
“President Putin replied that he was in favour but without making any commitments,” the aide said, adding that Putin had denied that the Russian military was targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
The aide said that Putin had again aired his grievances against the West and “referred back to the history of the last 30 years, as is his habit” including NATO’s intervention in the ex-Yugoslavia.
The two men continue to use the informal “you” pronoun when speaking to each other in a sign of friendliness.
“President Putin has a way of talking that is very neutral and very clinical. He sometimes shows signs of impatience, but fundamentally there were no open signs of tensions during the exchanges,” the aide said.
In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Macron had vowed to continue speaking with Putin “for as long as I can, and for as long is necessary” to persuade him to end the violence and prevent a spread of the conflict.
He will again push for extra sanctions on Russia to increase the cost of the invasion, the aide said.
“War has returned to Europe, this was chosen unilaterally by President (Vladimir) Putin, with a tragic humanitarian situation, a (Ukrainian) people who are resisting and a Europe that is there and resisting by the side of the Ukrainian people,” said Macron.
Macron has again called an emergency defence council of top ministers and military security officials to discuss the situation in Ukraine which will take place at 1600 GMT, Elysee said.
With the war and sanctions against Russia risking damage for specific sectors in France, notably the wine industry, Macron vowed a “plan of resilience” to help them cope.
The French leader was a key figure in efforts to avert conflict, repeatedly speaking to Putin and seeking in vain to broker a summit between the Russian leader and US President Joe Biden.
The war has also broken out as the clock ticks down to France’s presidential elections in April.
Macron, who is expected to seek and win a second term, has left the official declaration of his candidacy to the last minute, although he must make a move next week ahead of a March 4 deadline to register.