Ukraine needs strong signal from EU, Macron says

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President Emmanuel Macron voiced a tougher line on Russia on Wednesday and said Europe needed to send a strong signal to Ukraine as he sought to assuage concerns in Kyiv and among some European allies over his previous stance towards Moscow.

Macron arrived in Romania on Tuesday for a three-day trip to Ukraine’s eastern neighbours including Moldova, before possibly heading to Kyiv on Thursday on a visit with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, two diplomatic sources told Reuters News Agency.

The symbolic visit would come a day before the European Commission makes a recommendation on Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate, something the biggest European nations have been lukewarm about and are set to discuss at a leaders’ summit on June 23-24.

“We are at a point when we (Europeans) need to send clear political signals, us Europeans, towards Ukraine and its people when it is resisting heroically,” Macron said, without giving details.

The French leader has been criticised by Ukraine and eastern European allies for what they perceive as his ambiguous backing for Ukraine in the war against Russia.

French officials have in recent days sought to strengthen the public messaging, while Macron appeared to take a tougher line on Tuesday evening when he was with his troops.

“We will do everything to stop Russia’s war forces, to help the Ukrainians and their army and continue to negotiate,” he told French and NATO troops at a military base in Romania.