The European Union must be ready to defend Ukraine with or without the military support of the United States, French President Emmanuel Macron said during a speech in Sweden on Jan. 30.
“This is a decisive and testing moment for Europe," Macron said. "We must be ready to act to defend and support Ukraine whatever it takes and whatever America decides.”
U.S. financial and military aid to Ukraine has been suspended for months as Republican lawmakers hold $61 billion in continued assistance hostage to demands for tighter immigration and border policy restrictions. The possibility of former president Donald Trump winning a second term in 2024 further undermines the long-term reliability of U.S. support.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Macron argued that Europe must be ready to take control of its own security and future relations with Moscow, regardless of U.S. policy.
“Europe had been lucky to have America as a partner but we have to be lucid. Ukraine is part of the European continent and whatever America decides we have to take the right and bold decisions to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people," Macron said.
Macron's speech comes on the eve of the European Council's special summit on Feb. 1, where member nations will again discuss a 50-billion-euro ($54 billion) aid package for Ukraine. The aid was blocked in December by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Macron on Jan. 30 said the EU needs to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, and shoulder any cost necessary to defeat Russia.
“The real cost to us of a Russian victory in the short and long run is too high for all of us," he said.
A number of top officials from different countries have recently voiced fears of an escalated conflict with Russia that spills beyond Ukraine's borders and into EU or NATO countries.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, currently visiting Washington, D.C. to make the case for Ukraine funding to U.S. lawmakers, said on Jan. 29 that support for Ukraine is "an investment in our own security because the world will become more dangerous if (Russian) President Putin wins in Ukraine.”
German NATO commander Alexander Sollfrank also said on Jan. 29 that member nations should prepare for the possibility of Russian missile strikes in Europe, while Poland's national security agency reported in December that Russia could attack NATO directly within the next three years.
Macron, who has pledged to sign a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv in February, said the EU must do "much more" to ramp up defense production and urged European partners to "overreact" to Russia's security threat.
He also said Europe cannot leave crucial decisions about arms controls and nuclear treaties to the U.S. and Russia, but must take charge of its own security architecture.
“There is no future for ourselves and our children if we are not in a situation to build the new architecture of security of arms control in our neighbourhood," he said.
"We have to be the one who decides for ourselves and not delegate it to others, even if they are very good allies, because they live on the other side of the ocean.”