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Emmanuel Macron supports use of Western weapons against Russia

Emmanuel Macron supports use of Western weapons against Russia

Emmanuel Macron’s state visit has so far been all about German-French friendship. On the last day, the war in Ukraine is moving to the forefront – and Macron is making clear statements.

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to allow Ukraine to attack military positions on Russian territory with Western weapons. “We think that we should allow them to neutralize the military sites from which the missiles are being fired and, in essence, the military sites from which Ukraine is being attacked,” Macron said after a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) at Meseberg Castle near Berlin.

However, he made it clear: “We should not allow other targets to be hit in Russia, civilian capacities of course, or other military targets.”

This is the first time that a head of state of a leading NATO state has so clearly supported the use of Western weapons against positions in Russia. Most recently, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had increased the pressure to lift existing restrictions.

Scholz less clear than Emmanuel Macron: emphasis on international law

Scholz was less clear on the issue than Macron, but let it be known that he had no legal objections to such action. Under international law, Ukraine has every opportunity to do what it does against the Russian attackers. “It must be said explicitly: it is under attack and is allowed to defend itself.” International law applies to the use of weapons supplied by the USA, France and Germany. “That has worked well in practice so far and will certainly continue to do so,” stressed Scholz.

According to experts, international law allows attacked states to attack aggressors on their own territory in order to defend themselves. From a purely legal point of view, where the weapons come from is not relevant.

However, Scholz has always stressed that Germany will not participate directly in the war against Russia. This also plays a central role in his rejection of the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. Scholz did not answer the question of whether the use of Western weapons against Russian territory would generally mean participation in the war.

Macron: Ukraine is being attacked from Russia

Macron argued that the situation was new and that he showed a map of the front lines in eastern Ukraine at the joint press conference with Scholz in front of the castle. “Ukrainian soil is de facto being attacked from bases located in Russia. How do you explain to the Ukrainians that they have to protect their cities?” said Macron. “If you tell them: ‘You must not reach the point from which the rockets are being fired,’ then you are basically telling them: ‘We will supply you with weapons, but you must not defend yourselves.'” Macron stressed that France did not want any further escalation.

Ukraine is using drones of its own production against positions on Russian territory in order to defend itself against Russian attackers. However, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian armed forces are currently prohibited from using Western weapons. Just a few days ago, in an interview with the New York Times, Zelensky urgently asked for permission to use these weapons, for example to destroy artillery positions on Russian territory on the border with Ukraine.

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Russia has already threatened retaliation

Germany has supplied Ukraine with long-range artillery guns that would make this possible. The Mars II rocket launcher can hit targets more than 80 kilometers away. The Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which was attacked by Russia, is only about 30 kilometers from the Russian border.

During a visit to Kiev a few weeks ago, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that it was up to Ukraine whether it aimed its weapons at positions in Russia. Moscow then summoned the British ambassador and threatened retaliation in the event of an attack with British weapons.

Macron was also quite clear on another issue regarding support for Ukraine. He plans to present a plan in the coming weeks on the question of a possible deployment of French military trainers to Ukraine. He plans to do this during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Normandy to commemorate the Allied landing operation. At that time he will “speak out very precisely to announce what we will do.”

Back in February, French President Emmanuel had already suggested sending ground troops to Ukraine, which he did not want to rule out, and thereby sparked a lively debate among the western allies of the country attacked by Russia. Scholz had clearly rejected such a step.

Agenda for more investment and European sovereignty

Scholz and Macron met in Meseberg with several of their ministers to discuss European competitiveness and arms cooperation. Before the meeting, the two proposed an agenda for more innovation, investment and European sovereignty for the next five years after the European elections in a guest article in the Financial Times. “We can no longer take for granted the foundations on which we have built our European lifestyle and our role in the world,” the article says. “Our Europe is mortal and we must rise to the challenge.”

Europe must be a strong global industrial and technological leader while at the same time achieving its goal of making the EU the first climate-neutral continent. To meet these ambitions, the EU needs “more innovation, more internal market, more investment, more level playing field and less bureaucracy”.

In his speech in front of Dresden’s Frauenkirche on Monday, Macron was more explicit and called for a “massive investment shock” in Europe. “Let’s double our European budget, either through the size of the budget, or through strategies of joint bonds, or through existing instruments,” he said. There is nothing about this in the joint article with Scholz. Financing such a step through joint debt is out of the question for the German government.

“We will always agree”

In Meseberg, however, Scholz and Macron made an effort not to exaggerate the differences between the two governments. “We always agree and we make progress,” said the French head of state. Scholz referred to the solidarity during the corona pandemic and the joint support of Ukraine. “That is why I am quite sure that the German-French friendship will continue to hold in the future, especially when it comes to future economic decisions,” stressed the SPD politician. “We always agree” – that has been the case in the past and is also a good prognosis for the future, said Scholz.

Macron concluded his official state visit to Münster before the Franco-German Council of Ministers in Meseberg. There he was awarded the International Peace of Westphalia Prize and in his acceptance speech called for more optimism and drive in Europe. “As a European, being optimistic means being sure that Europe is the right answer,” he said.

Source: Stern

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