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“After Ukraine it’s the EU and many EU countries are scared,” French PM says

“It’s true that we need to do more, we need to do even more,” Attal added.
Gabriel Attal. Photo source: Facebook
“After Ukraine it’s the EU and many EU countries are scared,” French PM says

France’s new prime minister, Gabriel Attal, arrived in Canada this week amid a perilous time for European security. In an exclusive interview with CBC’s Power & Politics, Attal said Ukraine is resisting Russian aggression because of the bravery of Ukrainians and support from allies like France and Canada; however, he acknowledged more needs to be done.

“We’ve seen Ukraine resisting and Ukraine is resisting because… we support them as France and as the European Union. France gave 7 billion euros of military support to Ukraine, so we will keep on supporting Ukraine to resist against Russia because after Ukraine it’s the European Union and many European Union countries are scared about what could come next,” Attal stated.

When asked if the West is fighting hard enough against Russia, given its relatively small economic might compared to the collective power of NATO allies, Attal responded: “It’s true that we need to do more, we need to do even more. That’s why we had a very important meeting in Paris, you know, with leaders from all over the world, and Canada was represented at that meeting.”

He stressed the importance of the upcoming NATO summit in Washington in July to further increase support for Ukraine, stating “Russia can’t win this war.”

Many believe that a major threat to Western unity on Ukraine looms – the possibility of Donald Trump returning to the White House after the 2024 US election. As president, Trump was a vocal critic of NATO and opposed sending aid to Ukraine.

When asked how France is preparing for a potential Trump presidency that could abandon NATO commitments, Attal was cautious but firm:

“I don’t want to meddle in the US internal politics and election, but what I will tell you as the French prime minister and as a European is that I don’t want France and the EU security to depend on others. We need to depend mostly on ourselves. We need a second lifeguard. We have NATO, but we also need to increase even more our defense policy in the EU to have this other lifeguard.”

He added, “I don’t want our security, I don’t want our choices, I don’t want our ability to support Ukraine to depend on elections over the Atlantic.”

On defense spending, a longstanding issue within NATO, Attal highlighted France’s commitments while avoiding directly criticizing Canada’s lower spending levels compared to the 2% of GDP target.

“The most important thing first is being present in multilateral assemblies…Then the situation we’re seeing in Ukraine today shows that we need to prepare ourselves for any situation. That’s why we decided in France to increase a lot our defense budget,” he said.

Attal noted that between President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 election and the end of his second term in 2027, France will have doubled its defense budget to meet the 2% goal. He stated France can be “a very reliable partner for Canada” on defense industrial support.

The high-stakes interview made clear that as the Ukraine war drags on and a potential shift in US leadership looms, France is determined to bolster European security through increased defense integration and spending – with or without support from across the Atlantic.

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