'If you're not for Macron, then you're for Putin'


Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

This is precisely the case when the context in which the discussion and voting takes place is more important than the essence of the treaty itself. The 10-year agreement between Paris and Kiev of February 16 envisages, among other things, military aid of up to €3 billion this year alone, including increased supplies of artillery and air defense equipment and support for Ukraine’s future possible accession to the European Union and NATO. And a few days before that, Macron scared everyone with the possible sending of French troops to Ukraine.

This is nothing new, but the French president used the relevant article of the Constitution and proposed to all political factions of the lower and upper chambers to express their attitude to the document and to vote. It was stipulated that the vote was not binding and that the government of Gabriel Attal could in no way be subjected to a vote of no confidence, if such a scenario were to occur.

Given that no one in France openly opposes Kiev, Macron’s idea is reminiscent of a scene from «Chapaev»: «And you, Vasily Ivanovich, are you for the Bolsheviks or for the Communists»?

A couple of days before the debate, the president invited the top brass of all parliamentary parties for consultations. When leaving the Elysee Palace, the head of the Communist Party Fabien Roussel said that the president tried to explain his words about the theoretical sending of French troops to the front, showing a map containing possible directions of Russian troops’ attack on Kiev and Odessa.

The law passed without any problems. But somehow it was presented in a strange way. The prime minister speaks first, then the defense minister, then the foreign minister, and if after these speeches you vote against it, you are automatically recorded not only in the «evil empire», but at least in supporters of the Russian leadership.

«The government has offered us to confirm and even perpetuate our support for the Ukrainians», says Benjamin Haddad, a deputy of the Macron Renaissance party, «On such an issue, we are able to gather a fairly broad majority from all political factions — Republicans, Socialists, Greens, and so on. But the very fact that we are being asked to vote means that we will all share responsibility».

And that’s a vote from the president’s camp. But the opposition was surprised by the fact that the entire spectrum of parties seem to take on the responsibility for all subsequent decisions of the president and the government concerning Ukraine, and they are not always clear and predictable.

«We voted against it», says Arnaud Le Gall, a deputy from Unbowed France. — «Macron’s recent statements have driven us into isolation, our allies are distancing themselves from his words. There is no way we can support this».

Among those abstaining is Marine Le Pen’s National Rally. They are already being accused of a pro-Kremlin stance. The Prime Minister said in his speech: «The impression is that Vladimir Putin’s troops are already operating on our territory». «You’re either in favor of Macron or you’re recorded as a Putin supporter», Marine Le Pen commented on the prime minister’s words.

«In fact, we agree in principle with the provisions of the treaty», said party chairman Jordan Bardella. — «But there are two provisions in it that are unacceptable to us — ‘red lines’. These are Ukraine’s accession to NATO and to the European Union».

That is, the very fact of the vote (also «non-binding»), not the treaty, should have become a kind of «moment of truth» and show the French who is on which side. And all because the election campaign for the European Parliament has already started, and Macron’s party is not in a good position at all. According to the most recent polls, Le Pen and the National Rally are ahead of Renaissance by 13 points.

The purpose of this maneuver is to demonstrate that RN, as it turns out, is «not for Kiev», and therefore — for whom? Exactly. «To abstain means to run away from the battlefield, to turn your back», — said the Prime Minister.

Another thing is that the elections are still three months away, and such a trick is usually good somewhere at the finish line. By June, voters are unlikely to remember the voting that took place in the first half of March. Therefore, most likely, the Ukrainian topic will be made one of the key issues in the election campaign.

Of course, everyone understood where Macron’s trap was. The leftists — the Communists and «Unbowed France» — voted specifically against it, but immediately accepted the new rules of the game.

«Macron is going to march», said Arnaud Le Gall of the «Unbowed», «but France will not be stuck in the Atlantic Western camp. Ukraine will never be in NATO or the EU».

Le Pen’s party has already announced that it is against turning the issue of aid to Ukraine into an element of the electoral battle and is not going to build its campaign around this issue.