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Macron Urges Europe to Find ‘Path to Membership of NATO’ for Ukraine


It may not be possible to send Vladimir Putin to face war crime charges at The Hague if he is the only person with whom the west has to negotiate an end to the Ukraine war, Emmanuel Macron has said.

In a wide-ranging speech, the French president also set out plans for a fast enlargement of the EU, a reconciliation between the east and west of Europe and a clear path to Ukraine’s Nato membership.

He insisted that Russia had lost all legitimacy, but said if the coming Ukraine offensive did not meet its military objectives there would have to be an assessment of the nature of future European support for Ukraine. At the same time he insisted that Ukraine was defending not just its own borders, but those of Europe.

He also called for continuity in US policy towards Ukraine, but said the EU by strengthening its own defences had to prepare for the possibility that a Republican administration might be elected.

In the frankest remarks yet by a European leader about the need to negotiate with Putin, Macron said that “if in a few months to come we have a window for negotiations, the question will be arbitrage between a trial and a negotiation, and you have to negotiate with the leaders you have de facto, and I think negotiations will be a priority … You can put yourself in a position where you say: ‘I want you to go jail but you are the only one I can negotiate with’.”

He insisted that in the meantime evidence against Russia and its leaders should be assembled.

Pressing his case for greater European defence spending and coordination, he said “our security and stability should not be delegated and left at the discretion of US voters”.

Referring back to his claim three years ago that Nato was braindead, he said Putin’s invasion of Ukraine had been a wake-up call to which Nato had responded well. But he pointed out that some Nato members – without directly mentioning Turkey – were not imposing sanctions on Russia, adding that alleviating the burden for Russia was not completely consistent with Nato membership.

He acknowledged that in the past western Europe had not been sensitive to the requests of the east. “Some said you had missed an opportunity to stay quiet. I think we also lost an opportunity to listen to you. This time is over,” Macron said, to applause in the audience.

He was alluding to a remark in 2003 by former French president Jacques Chirac, who said eastern European nations which sided with the US and Britain in their decision to invade Iraq that year, opposed by some major western allies including France and Germany, had missed a “good opportunity to stay quiet”.

Referring back to the division of Europe enforced in the east in the wake of the second world war, Macron said Europe must not allow eastern Europe to be kidnapped by Russia a second time, adding that the enforced estrangement had weakened the whole European family.

Source: The Guardian

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