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Media: Macron urges stronger European defense, warns against overreliance on US

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a stirring address at Sorbonne University in Paris on 25 April, urging for a more robust and unified European defense strategy.
President of France Emmanuel Macron during an interview in Paris, aired on Ukrainian TV on 16 March 2024. Screenshot from a Youtube video.
Media: Macron urges stronger European defense, warns against overreliance on US

On 25 April, French President Emmanuel Macron called for enhanced and more integrated European defense capabilities, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that Europe does not become overly reliant on the US as he outlined his vision for a more assertive European Union on the global stage, according to Reuters.

His words came amid recent threats from Russian officials, specifically from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, of a direct nuclear war with the West after the US approved a new $60 billion aid package held in Congress for months and ahead of the vote on 9 June to elect 81 members of the European Parliament.

“There is a risk our Europe could die. We are not equipped to face the risks,” Macron said in his speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris, warning that military, economic, trade, and other pressures could potentially undermine and divide the European bloc.

Macron stressed the importance of preventing Russia from achieving victory in Ukraine. He proposed bolstering Europe’s cybersecurity capabilities, fostering closer defense collaboration with post-Brexit Britain, and establishing a European academy to train high-ranking military personnel.

“There is no defense without a defense industry … we’ve had decades of under-investment. We must produce more, we must produce faster, and we must produce as Europeans,” he said.

Macron warned that Europe risks lagging behind economically because of tough competition in the global market and changes in its rules and called for less bureaucracy for small and medium-sized businesses.

The French president returned to some of the themes of a speech he gave in September 2017, months after taking office at the same location, the Sorbonne University in Paris, that prefigured some significant EU policy shifts, as per France24.

Since then, much has changed, with significant geopolitical challenges, including the war in Israel, Russia’s all-out war in Ukraine, and growing China-US tensions.

The speech was presented by Macron’s advisors as France’s input to the EU’s strategic plan for the next five years. The agenda will be ultimately determined after the European elections, during which EU leaders will negotiate over the bloc’s key positions.

Earlier, Macron suggested that sending Western troops to Ukraine was still a possibility in a claim that prompted a strong reaction from the Kremlin. Later, Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, dismissed the idea of European nations and NATO members deploying ground forces to Ukraine.

However, experts said that Macron’s claims were part of an approach of strategic ambiguity toward Russia, leaving all options on the table, including military ones, as per The Wall Street Journal.

This idea represented a shift from the position taken by the Biden administration since the beginning of the full-scale war in 2022. Despite the overwhelming opposition from the Western allies, Macron said in a conversation with journalists that although there was no consensus on sending troops, “nothing should be ruled out.”

In March 2024, the French president warned against underestimating Russia’s ambitions in the ongoing war.

Macron: believing Russia will stop at Donbas, Crimea is a mistake

Speaking to reporters, Macron emphasized that it would be a misjudgment to assume that Russia’s aggressive actions would be limited to the Donbas and Crimea and that the West should be prepared for further actions of the Kremlin.

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