Paris does not want a “third world war” but will support Kiev, the French president has said
France will continue “helping” Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.
Paris is seeking an end to the fighting, without it spiraling into a “third world war” and does not want to become directly involved in hostilities, he added.
France should nevertheless increase its military budget in the wake of the hostilities between Kiev and Moscow, Macron told French media. “The end of summer and autumn will be very harsh,” he warned, suggesting the fighting is set to intensify.
“Those who thought the high-intensity war was over were wrong. I asked to evaluate the new risks to adjust our strategy until the end of the year,” the president said.
France is set to continue supporting the Ukrainian authorities, both directly and through imposing additional sanctions on Russia, Macron went on. “This war will last and France will always be there to help Ukraine and slow down the Russian economy,” he said.
We want to stop this war without getting involved. We don’t want a third world war.
Macron also said Russia was waging a “hybrid war” against Europe, accusing Moscow of cutting gas supplies. The president was referring to Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom shutting down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for ten days for annual maintenance this week.
France, and Europe as a whole, must be prepared to live “entirely without Russian gas” supply, Macron suggested, adding that he will “ask the French to consume less.”
“We must try to reduce [gas consumption] to pass the peak of winter. We must do this to avoid complete cuts,“ he said. “Energy prices went up before the war. The real change in the last few days is Russia’s decision to cut gas. We are in a hybrid war. Russia is using energy as a weapon of war,” Macron added.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.