Macron once infuriated NATO with dishonourable bid to split alliance with EU army

Marine Le Pen blames Macron for dependency on Russian oil

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Mr Macron has been central to diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine and one of the most prominent NATO members in attempts to reason with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr Macron has held a number of phone conversations with Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other EU and NATO leaders since Russia launched its invasion in February. Mr Macron, who controversially said NATO was experiencing “brain death” three years ago, also told a press conference last month that the war in Ukraine had given the Western military alliance an “electroshock”.

He said: “The war launched by President Putin brings a clarification, and creates at our borders and on our European soil an unusual threat which gives a strategic clarification to NATO.”

The French President has long been critical of NATO, having caused a stir in 2019 with claims that Europe needed to “wake up” on defence and security following what he perceived as a collapse of US-EU strategic cooperation with NATO.

In September last year Mr Macron once again angered the alliance with calls to build an EU army.

Mr Macron said: “As I have done at every point in front of the French people, I would like to say with resolute conviction: the Europe of today is too weak, too slow, too inefficient.

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“But Europe alone can enable us to take action in the world, in the face of the big contemporary challenges.”

However, in response, a NATO official told Politico Mr Macron’s was “dishonourable” for trying to mount an attack on the coalition.

Referring to the US and UK the official said: “If France’s assessment is that Europe is too weak, how can the solution be to make it weaker by dividing it internally and cutting it off from the biggest two other defence spenders [US and UK].

“We have only one set of forces. Parallel structures will only weaken the existing pool”.

EU efforts to create a rapid reaction force have been paralysed for over a decade despite the creation of a battle groups system of 1,500 troops in 2007.

However, Mr Macron was among a number of world leaders to renew calls for an EU army after the West’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

In March this year, the French President once again warned that Europe must become more independent in terms of its own defence, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a 14-minute television address Mr Macron said the conflict had “changed the era” across that continent.

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He said: “We can no longer depend on others to feed us, care for us, inform us, finance us.

“We cannot depend on others to defend us, whether on land, at sea, under the sea, in the air, in space or in cyberspace.

“In this respect, our European defence must take a new step forward.”

He added: “War in Europe no longer belongs in our history books or school books, it is here, before our eyes.

“Democracy is no longer considered an unquestionable system, it is questioned, before our eyes.

“Our freedom, that of our children, is no longer a given.

“To this brutal return of tragedy in history, we must respond with historic decisions.”

Of course, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has given extra weight to Mr Macron’s long-held belief that the EU should have its own joint defence force.

Shortly after his 2017 election victory, Mr Macron said that the EU should have “autonomous capacity for action” through a joint military force, defence budget and defence policy.

Then he stressed that any new EU force would be a compliment to NATO rather than a rival.

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