President Emmanuel Macron said in the early hours of Friday (10) that he does not rule out delivering fighter jets to Ukraine, but that the priority right now is to help Kiev resist in the coming weeks. The French leader is also considering removing Vladmir Putin’s Legion of Honor distinction.
“I absolutely do not rule out anything,” Emmanuel Macron replied, when asked whether France would send combat aircraft to Ukraine in the short or medium term. “The discussion we had yesterday [Wednesday 8] with President Zelensky highlighted that the priority must be to do everything to help resist in the coming weeks and to carry out useful operations in the coming weeks and months,” the head of state indicated.
Allied countries should, in this sense, give priority to the “most useful” and “fastest” equipment, explained Macron, who was speaking after a European summit organized in Brussels, attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Under no circumstances can fighter planes be delivered in the coming weeks, because there are delays in delivery and in indispensable training for [driving] planes that are not known to Ukrainian pilots,” the French head of state continued.
“I do not absolutely exclude [the sending of fighter jets], but it does not correspond to today’s needs,” Emmanuel Macron stressed, emphasizing that deliveries of artillery elements, such as Caesar cannons, announced last month by France, better meet the needs of Ukrainian forces.
Legion of Honor
Macron also announced he would not rule out withdrawing the French Legion of Honor, awarded by his predecessor Jacques Chirac to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006, explaining that he wanted to choose “the right moment to do so.”
On Wednesday night, the head of state presented Volodymyr Zelensky, passing through Paris during his second trip outside Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion, with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. This is the highest honor a French president can bestow on another country’s leader.
Questioned by the press early this morning after the summit in Brussels, Macron explained that this distinction was “an element of justice and recognition of our country” to the Ukrainian president.
The informal ceremony to award Volodymyr Zelensky the Legion of Honor at the Elysée Palace, however, revived the demands of those who demand that France remove this distinction from Vladimir Putin.
“The right moment”
In 2006, Jacques Chirac presented the Russian president with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. This decision immediately raised controversy. The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had insistently tried to deprive the Kremlin chief of this distinction in a court of law, to no avail.
Evoking a “symbolic but important issue,” President Macron said that “I do not rule anything out (…) but it is not a decision I have taken today.” Such decisions “are always significant and I think you have to evaluate the right moment to take them.”
(With information from Reuters and AFP) *** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI team ***