Electoral posters —
France’s presidential elections made plenty of buzz in Brussels over the past week as they could have an impact on the war in Ukraine.
The 24 April runoff between President Emmanuel Macron and right-wing politician Marine Le Pen could have significant implications for the European Union as the two candidates are proposing very different ideas for France’s role internationally.
Macron supports tough EU sanctions against Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) while Le Pen opposes sanctions on Russian oil and gas and she wants France to leave NATO’s military command.
“The battle we are fighting is not just simply a battle for France, it’s a fight for Europe because the far-right project is against what I am defending in front of you now…it is a project to leave the EU,» said Macron.
While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seems to have partly changed Le Pen’s mind about Vladimir Putin, she still backs closer ties with Moscow.
«As soon as the Russia-Ukraine war is over and we have a peace treaty, I will propose a strategic rapprochement between NATO and Russia,» said Le Pen.
Meanwhile, in another part of Europe, Putin’s war in Ukraine has increased the public’s appetite for joining NATO for the first time in history.
Finland and Sweden took a major step toward joining NATO despite warnings from Moscow after their prime ministers said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “dramatically shaped mindsets” in the Nordic countries.
“The European security architecture has changed fundamentally after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The change in the security landscape makes it necessary to analyse how we best secure peace in Finland and our region in the future. I won’t give any timetable for our decisions, but I think it will happen quite fast, within weeks not within months,» said Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
A recent opinion poll showed that 68% of Finnish respondents were in favour of joining the alliance, more than double the figure before the invasion, with only 12% against it.
Polling in Sweden suggests a slim majority of Swedes now also back NATO membership.