Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: Michal Cizek / AFP 17:05 p.m., May 31, 2023

Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for the granting of "tangible and credible" security guarantees to Ukraine, pending its accession to NATO, and pleaded for a more powerful Europe of defense within the Alliance, despite the reservations of many Central and Eastern European countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for "tangible and credible" security guarantees to Ukraine, pending its accession to NATO, and pleaded for a more powerful European defense within the Alliance, despite the reservations of many Central and Eastern European countries. During a speech at the Globsec Regional Security Forum in Bratislava he also invited the EU to "rethink" its governance and "invent" other "formats" in order to be able to integrate the accession candidates more quickly, from the Balkans to Ukraine and Moldova.

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"Give Ukraine the means to prevent further (Russian) aggression"

"If we want to ... If we want to be credible vis-à-vis the Ukrainians, we must give Ukraine the means to prevent any further (Russian) aggression and include it in (a) credible security architecture," the head of state said. "That is why I am in favour, and this will be the subject of collective discussions in the coming weeks, between now and the Vilnius summit, to give tangible and credible security guarantees to Ukraine," he insisted.

NATO heads of State and government are due to reaffirm their political and military support for Ukraine on 11th and 12th July in Vilnius, which has been in the grip of a Russian offensive for 15 months which is also worrying neighbouring countries that have emerged from the Soviet glacis.

Deliveries of weapons and technology

These guarantees can be granted by the various NATO member states, pending Ukraine's entry into the Alliance, which will remain very distant as long as it is at war with Russia. They can involve the delivery of weapons and technologies as well as the training of military personnel, including fighter pilots, likely to bring it closer to NATO standards as quickly as possible. "We must build something between the security provided to Israel (by the United States, editor's note) and full membership" to NATO, stressed Emmanuel Macron, judging unlikely a consensus on membership in Vilnius.

In the East, there are fears that insufficient engagement by Ukraine's allies could lead to freezing the current front line and consolidating Russia's territorial gains without bringing peace. "A frozen conflict will only give Russia a respite to prepare another aggression," said Slawomir Debski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM).

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Emmanuel Macron, whose diplomatic initiatives since the beginning of the Russian offensive have often left his partners in the East doubtful, if not suspicious, also wanted to be reassuring on this point. "Peace cannot be a ceasefire that enshrines a state of affairs and amounts to creating a frozen conflict," he said. "We must put ourselves in a position to support Ukraine in the long term in a conflict of high and medium intensity," he said.

Do not repeat the mistakes of 1918

Emmanuel Macron had bristled more than once his peers by suggesting not to "humiliate" Russia and also to grant it "security guarantees" at the end of the war so as not to repeat the mistakes of 1918 that led to the advent of Nazi Germany. He has since readjusted his speech, hammering that peace can only be negotiated on Ukraine's terms and that it will go through a "defeat" of Russia.

The Head of State also launched into a long plea in favour of European sovereignty, particularly on the military level, perceived with great circumspection in Eastern Europe. "We must not let Europe be kidnapped a second time," he said in reference to the Cold War between the Americans and the Soviets, which largely took place in the Old Continent. A "Europe of defence", "European pillar within NATO", is "essential to be "credible in the long term", he said calling on Europeans to equip themselves with a "strike capability in depth" and to buy European weapons.

The "geography will not change", it will also be necessary "to coexist in the most peaceful way, without any naivety, with the Russia of tomorrow", he insisted. Eastern Europeans are viscerally attached to NATO, the only bulwark in their eyes against what they perceive as an existential Russian threat, and take a dim view of the strengthening of European sovereignty advocated by the French president.