French parliament to vote on Macron's Ukraine strategy

Ukraine  Reuters - Sarah Meyssonnier
MAR 12, 2024 LISTEN
© Reuters - Sarah Meyssonnier

French President Emmanuel Macron's Ukraine strategy will be put to a symbolic vote in parliament's lower house on Tuesday evening as political tensions rage in the run-up to June's European Parliament elections.

Following a debate, the National Assembly lower house will hold a non-binding vote on the government's Ukraine strategy including a bilateral security agreement signed by Macron and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky last month.

While the vote will be symbolic, it will give political parties an opportunity to publicly express their positions in relation to Macron's strategy on the conflict as Russia's invasion of Ukraine stretches into its third year.

After a meeting between the president and party leaders last week, some of them said Macron's stance on Ukraine had caused concern.

The far-right National Rally (RN), which leads Macron's alliance by a wide margin ahead of the June European elections, said it would abstain, while the far-left France Unbowed party (LFI) said it would vote against.

With the support of the conservative Republicans party (LR), the outcome of the vote could offer backing to Macron's strategy.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal will kick off the debate at around 4.30 pm (Paris time), and the vote is expected at around 8.00 pm.

A major hot-button topic

LFI said it would vote "against war" and the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO and the European Union in the future.

LFI leader Manuel Bompard told LCI channel that this vote in Parliament on support for Ukraine had "a masquerade dimension". "This agreement has already been ratified by the President, it is not a binding vote", he said.

For his part, speaking to broadcaster France 2, Jordan Bardella, the 28-year-old leader of the RN, said his party would abstain because of its "red lines".

"We need to be very careful", said Bardella. "Yes to support for Ukraine, but no to war with Russia."

The RN opposes the dispatch of Western ground troops, which Macron has refused to rule out, and the possibility of Ukraine becoming a member of NATO and the EU.

In France's polarised political landscape, Russia's war against Ukraine has emerged as a major hot-button topic.

Macron has been seeking to hammer home the importance of greater support for Ukraine, which is running out of ammunition, insisting that Europe's security is at stake.

'No need for French ground troops'

Allies of Macron at the weekend lambasted the far-right National Rally at the launch of their European election campaign, accusing them of betraying the interests of France and Europe and flirting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking to French broadcaster BFM TV on Monday, Zelensky said that there was no need for French ground troops in his war-torn country as long as "Ukraine holds".

"Your children are not going to die in Ukraine," he said.

The Senate upper house was set to hold similar debates on Wednesday.

(with newswires)