In a symbolic vote, the National Assembly voted on the security cooperation agreement between France and Ukraine, signed on Feb. 16 at the Elysée by French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The parties on the extreme sides of the hemicycle said “red lines” were crossed and refused to support Macron’s policy in supporting Ukraine’s fight with a long-term military agreement.

All the other political groups, including Renaissance (Renew), Les Républicains (LR), Socialistes et Apparentés (S&D) and the Ecologistes group (Greens), voted in favor of the agreement.

“Despite all the rules and all the international conventions, we are at a decisive moment,” said Prime Minister Gabriel Attal in his speech to MPs ahead of the vote.

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“Russia is a threat not only to Ukraine, but also directly to us, to Europe, to France and to the French people,” added Attal.

The agreement includes a strengthening of military cooperation between the two countries for the next ten years, particularly in the areas of artillery and Ukrainian air defense.

Paris also promised to provide “up to €3 billion ($3.3 billion) in additional support” to Kyiv in 2024.

“Our security comes at a price,” said Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper on Monday, March 11.

British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 15 July 2024
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British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 15 July 2024

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“The message from the president of the republic was very clear: we will not abandon Ukraine and we are not ruling out any option as a matter of principle,” Attal told MPs, referring to Macron’s comments in Paris that he would not rule out sending military troops to Ukraine.

“We are working within a considered framework to reaffirm our support for Ukraine, but without waging war on Russia and rejecting any logic of escalation,” Attal said.

Before concluding that “voting against” the agreement signed with Kyiv would be the sign of a France that was “turning its back” on its history, “to abstain is to flee.”

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LFI, RN see Ukraine’s NATO and EU membership as a “red line”

MPs of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN, ID) abstained from the vote, in a show of non-support to Macron’s policy in Ukraine.

“Either we are pro-Macron, or we are accused of being pro-Putin,” Marine Le Pen said, an emblematic figure in the party, during the debate.

The RN is often accused of playing soft with the Kremlin. While it has remained clear from supporting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, it does share seats with the far-right and Russia-sympathetic party in the European Parliament.

“We have a duty to the French people,” she added. “It is the lives of our young soldiers that will be at stake if, by some misfortune, Macron’s warlike announcements, turn out to be implemented.”

“On this text, which we can support in principle, there are red lines,” said RN president Jordan Bardella on the morning of the vote, referring to Ukraine’s membership in the European Union and NATO, which the party opposes.

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For their part, MPs of the far-left wing party France Insoumise (LFI, The Left), according to whom Ukraine’s membership of the EU and NATO is also a “red line,” voted against the agreement.

LFI MP Arnaud Le Gall described France’s agreement to support Ukraine as a “blank check.”

“Yes or no, do we accept that France, a nuclear power, should place itself in a situation of war with Russia, another nuclear power? That is the question we are being asked today,” he added. For him, Macron’s comments on sending troops is “escalation.”

After the National Assembly, the Senate will hold a similar debate on Wednesday, March 13.

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