France's Emmanuel Macron wants Russia 'beaten, not crushed'

President says he is against total defeat of Ukraine's invader

Ukrainian servicemen in the front line city of Vuhledar. Reuters
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France wants Russia to be defeated in Ukraine but it does not want to crush it, President Emmanuel Macron has said.

“I do not think, as some people do, that we must aim for a total defeat of Russia, attacking Russia on its own soil. Those observers want to, above all else, crush Russia. That has never been the position of France and it will never be our position,” he said.

Mr Macron has previously drawn criticism from some Nato allies for delivering mixed messages regarding his policy on the war between Ukraine and Russia.

He was speaking after returning from the Munich Security Conference, where he urged allies to intensify their support for Ukraine and said France was prepared for a drawn-out conflict.

“I want Russia to be defeated in Ukraine, and I want Ukraine to be able to defend its position,” he told French newspapers Le Journal du Dimanche and Le Figaro and broadcaster France Inter.

“I am convinced that, in the end, this will not conclude militarily."

He predicted that neither side would fully prevail in the conflict. But he did not want the fight to be taken on to Russian soil. People who did, he said, “want above all to crush Russia”.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, has told the Munich Security Conference that his country's David and Goliath struggle against the invading forces was still dependent on the backing that he pleaded for in person last year in Munich, days before the invasion.

Germany on Friday led a show of support for Ukraine in its war against Russia by calling for countries to transfer as many tanks as possible to the front line, as Mr Zelenskyy said supporters must “hurry up” to end the conflict.

On Saturday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pressed for a Nato charter to guarantee support for Ukraine, telling the conference that Britain would be a supplier of long-range missiles to aid a counter-offensive by Kyiv.

“We need to do more to bolster Ukraine’s long-term security. We must give them the advanced Nato-standard capabilities that they need for the future,” he said in Munich.

On Friday, Mr Macron urged allies to step up military support for Ukraine.

Updated: February 19, 2023, 8:34 AM