Politics

Macron’s Plan to Send Trainers to Ukraine Falters After Election

Gitanas Nauseda (Graeme Sloan/Photographer: Graeme Sloan/Bloom)

(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron’s main partner in a proposal to deploy military trainers to Ukraine cast doubt on its prospects after the French president was left weakened by his country’s recent elections.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the plan hadn’t drawn broad support and, without consensus, “the idea is likely to remain unresolved and up in the air.” He spoke to Bloomberg News on the sidelines of a NATO leaders summit in Washington Wednesday. 

“We don’t see President Macron taking further steps to resolve it,” he said.

At D-Day celebrations on June 7, Macron said he was working on a coalition to send instructors to the war-battered country in response to a request for support from Kyiv. But that was days before the European Parliament elections on June 9 upended his political plans. 

Macron called a snap legislative ballot after the far-right trounced his party in the EU-wide vote. While the far right fell to third place, a coalition of left-wing parties won, meaning Macron may be forced to work with a prime minister from outside his centrist alliance. 

A French official said the idea of sending instructors to Ukraine still stands and recalled that a bilateral security agreement with Kyiv was approved in Parliament earlier this year with support from both the left and the right. The person added that it’s the president who has the final say in foreign policy.

The French president’s idea for trainers has been met with mixed responses. While some European officials welcomed it as an attempt to confuse Russian President Vladimir Putin about allies’ intentions, others warned against the risk of NATO members being roped into a wider war with the Kremlin. 

NATO allies already quietly send a limited number of trainers to Ukraine. Larger training exercises organized by NATO allies take place outside of the country, including in nearby Poland. 

While Ukraine welcomed Macron’s suggestion at the time, some allied officials have criticized Macron’s initiative as a means to distract from France’s military aid for Ukraine, which trails in comparison to bigger allies. 

Nauseda said the political turmoil in France was unfavorable to Ukraine, adding that “similar initiatives will be — and are getting — questioned.”

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