Macron said before a possible visit to Ukraine need a strong signal from the European Union

  • French leader criticized for his perceived soft streak
  • Macron insists Paris will do everything it can to stop Russia
  • Macron sees NATO forces in Romania and supports Moldova
  • Schulz, Draghi and Yohannes may join Macron in Kyiv visit

CONSTANTA, Romania (June 15) (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron voiced a tougher stance on Russia on Wednesday and said Europe needed to send a strong signal to Ukraine as he sought to allay concerns in Kyiv and among some European allies over his previous stance on Russia. Moscow.

Macron arrived in Romania on Tuesday on a three-day trip to Ukraine’s eastern neighbors including Moldova, before likely heading to Kyiv on Thursday for a visit with German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, two diplomatic sources said. .

The symbolic visit comes a day before the European Commission issues a recommendation on Ukraine’s status as a candidate for EU membership, something that major European countries have been lukewarm about and is due to be discussed at the leaders’ summit on June 23-24.

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“We are at a point where we (Europeans) need to send clear political signals, we Europeans, towards Ukraine and its people when they heroically resist,” Macron said, without elaborating.

The French leader has come under fire from Ukraine and eastern European allies over what they see as vague support for Ukraine in the war against Russia.

French officials have in recent days sought to bolster public messaging, while Macron appeared to take a tougher stance on Tuesday night when he was with his troops. Read more

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“We will do everything we can to stop the Russian military forces, help the Ukrainians and their army, and continue negotiations,” he told French and NATO forces at a military base in Romania.

Macron has repeatedly said in recent weeks that it is necessary not to “humiliate” Russia so that a diplomatic solution can be found when the fighting is over, and continued to keep channels of communication open with the Kremlin, much to the chagrin of allies. Read more

Speaking alongside Yohannes, Macron played down those comments, but insisted that Ukraine, which he had hoped to win the war, will eventually have to negotiate with Russia.

“We share a continent,” he told reporters. “Geography is stubborn and at the end of the day Russia is there. It was there yesterday, it is there today, and it will be there tomorrow.”

France leads a NATO combat group in Romania, consisting of about 800 soldiers, including 500 French soldiers, as well as others from the Netherlands and Belgium. Paris has also deployed a surface-to-air missile system.

Macron travels to Moldova later on Wednesday to support a country many fear could be drawn into conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

The focus may turn to Kyiv on Thursday, where diplomatic sources said European leaders may head to the Ukrainian capital.

Macron declined to comment on “logistical matters”, but said it was important to hold new talks with Ukraine on military and financial affairs and issues related to the export of grain from the country.

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Iohannis of Romania said the support should include the offer of Ukraine’s status as a candidate in the European Union.

“In my opinion, candidate status should be granted as soon as possible, it is a correct solution from a moral, economic and security perspective,” Yohannes said, adding that there are efforts to find a practical solution to the differences between European powers.

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Reporting and Additional Writing by John Irish in Paris; Editing by Edmund Blair and Frank Jack Daniel

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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