May 22, 2024

Attacked at home and abroad for his statement last month that sending troops to Ukraine “should not be ruled out,” President Emmanuel Macron faced a torrent of outrage from the left and right on Thursday when he met with leaders of major political parties to hammer home his new position.

Mr. Macron’s remark startled his NATO allies and broke a taboo by threatening a direct confrontation with Russia, which they hoped to avoid. But it also caught the public and political parties by surprise and has since provoked intense debate in France.

With the meeting Thursday, Mr. Macron hoped to find some unity on bolstering support for Ukraine or, short of that, to expose opponents who in his view remain too weak-kneed or servile to Moscow. He told the party leaders that “Faced by an enemy that imposes no limit on itself, we cannot allow ourselves to impose our own.”

But the criticism of the president after the three-hour meeting was withering and uniform. Jordan Bardella, 28, the president of the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, said Mr. Macron was ready to support Ukraine with “no limit” and “no red line,” an approach he characterized as “irresponsible and extremely dangerous for peace in the world.”

Others, too, remained unpersuaded by the president’s arguments. Fabien Roussel, the secretary of the Communist Party, said Mr. Macron had used a map to illustrate possible advances of ascendant Russian troops toward the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and the southern port of Odessa.

“He said this could lead to an intervention” because “we cannot in any scenario allow them to do this,” Mr. Roussel said. He described the president’s position as “prepared for an escalation” and “dangerous.”

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