(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron wants to set the stage for more robust European defense and drive support for Kyiv, yet he faces a battle to get results or convince voters at home to back him.

The French president will outline his vision for Europe at Paris’s Sorbonne University on Thursday, echoing a landmark speech he gave there months into his first term in 2017. His calls then for a common European defense force, budget and doctrine now seem prescient in a world that has become more hostile, with war returning to European soil.

While Macron is often lauded for his analysis of Europe’s challenges, he’s also criticized for offering bold rhetoric without always delivering concrete solutions. Some argue he prioritizes grandstanding over quiet diplomatic coordination with European Union partners.

The 46-year-old leader, unable to seek a third mandate in 2027, is determined to make a lasting impact on the EU, which he has long viewed as integral to his legacy. He is currently gauging support for alternative European Commission heads such as former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg.

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Lately, he has made Ukraine a central focus of his campaign for European Parliament elections in June, though polls still point to a massive setback for his centrist political alliance against Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party.

Ahead of the speech, Macron invited experts to the presidential palace to discuss Europe on Tuesday, telling them he had won the ideological victory on defense, according to attendees who spoke on condition of anonymity. However, some of them urged him to offer concrete proposals to help Kyiv rather than just setting out grand visions.

“It pains me to say it but there’s no such thing as a real European defense today, and we’ve been downgrading our ambitions now for 25 years,” said Sven Biscop, a political scientist at the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations. While Paris is vocal, he said that after all these years “you start to wonder, does France really want it?”

One French diplomat said the president’s diplomatic experience and relationships mean he is well positioned to advocate for Europe, but that it’s crucial that his ideological victories translate into tangible action. Macron has experience working with Donald Trump, who may return to the White House next year, and has built relationships with leaders of Global South emerging economies such as Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and India’s Narendra Modi. The French leader has also highlighted his ability to talk to Arab countries since the Israel-Hamas war.

Earlier in the war in Ukraine, Macron also made missteps with Vladimir Putin, seeming to overestimate his influence on the Russian president as he sought to keep communication channels open, irking Kyiv.

Two months ago, Macron shook up his allies by opening the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine. This fueled discussions on how to confront Russia amid concerns of potential US disengagement from NATO and Europe under a second Trump presidency. Yet it appeared to backfire as Germany and the US publicly dismissed the idea.

He also backed a Czech initiative to purchase ammunition abroad for Kyiv, lifting previous reluctance to support non-EU made equipment. Unlike countries like Poland, Germany or Denmark, France still hasn’t said how much it will commit to the plan, however.

While the French defense industry has lifted the pace of production, the continent is nowhere near being the “war economy” that Macron proclaimed in the summer of 2022. Paris is miffed about data compiled by the Kiel Institute that shows French commitments to Ukraine lag European peers.

“I can imagine many game changers for Russia to win,” including “European support waning,” said Ulrike Franke, a Paris-based senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. While Macron’s comment on troops was useful to raise awareness in public opinion, she added: “It’s really difficult to imagine something that will make Ukraine win this war tomorrow.”

An acute shortage of ammunition and manpower along the 1,200-kilometer (930 miles) front is stoking fears that Kyiv’s military effort is nearing breaking point. Ukraine has around one artillery shell for every 10 Russia holds.

A French official said while everyone wants to sustain Ukraine’s defense, Europe has to deal with a lack of available equipment. The official cited the example of Franco-Italian SAMP/T air defense systems that France needs to provide security for nuclear facilities and the Paris Olympics this summer.

Macron said last week that France was working on sending more Crotale short-range missiles. Paris also aims to provide missiles for the SAMP/T that Kyiv already uses.

“There are only so many things we have left to deliver,” Franke said.

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