French lawmakers vote on Ukraine support in ‘risky’ Macron bet

French lawmakers will say on Tuesday whether they support a security accord with Ukraine, in a vote that is non-binding but closely watched in France and beyond.

Ukrainian officials have told Reuters they are worried that a vote not overwhelmingly in favour of Kyiv would be negative symbolically and could hurt President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to ramp up his country’s support in the coming months.

The 10-year security pact with Ukraine includes commitments by Paris to deliver more arms, train soldiers and send up to 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in military aid to Ukraine in 2024.

Macron has also adopted a tougher stance towards Russia, urging Ukraine’s allies to urgently do more. He also did not rule out the presence of Western troops in Ukraine which has created a backlash among some.

The far-right National Rally (RN) have said they would abstain in Tuesday’s vote on the security pact and the hard left France Unbowed (LFI) was expected to vote against.

Festive offer

“I do not want Emmanuel Macron to have free rein,” RN chief Jordan Bardella said, accusing Macron of leading France onto an “irresponsible, dangerous path.”

Macron has pushed for the vote in a bid to try and cast the far-right and far-left as being weak on Russia ahead of European parliamentary elections in June, which polls have long forecast the RN would largely win in France, analysts said.

“To abstain is to flee one’s responsibilities in the face of history,” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told parliament. Voting against, he said, would help Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Macron long warned against humiliating Russia, and his new stance has raised eyebrows.

“For Macron turning his party into the be-prepared-for-war party is a risky bet,” EuroIntelligence analysts said in a note.

“You want to pretend that one is either pro-Macron or pro-Putin … this is despicable,” said the RN’s Marine Le Pen.

A survey from pollster Elabe on Sunday showed a drop in French public opinion support for financial and military aid for Ukraine. Some 52% said they favoured a role for non-combat French troops in Ukraine but 79% opposed sending combat troops.

With the conservatives, Socialists and Greens set to vote in favour of the pact, despite their criticism of Macron, the non-binding vote was still expected to go through later in the evening.

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