First Secretary of the French left-wing Socialist Party (PS) and member of parliament Olivier Faure (C), French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party President and lead MEP Jordan Bardella (L) and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stand in front of a screen showing a picture of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as they take part in a political debate broadcasted on French TV channel France 2 in Paris on June 27, 2024, ahead of France's snap elections for a new national assembly.

The French far right Rassemblement National (RN) will not allow Russia to absorb Ukraine if it comes to power in legislative elections, party leader Jordan Bardella said Thursday, June 27. “I will not let Russian imperialism absorb an allied state like Ukraine,” Bardella said in a televised debate, pledging both “support for Ukraine and avoiding an escalation with Russia”.

His comments in the debate with Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and Socialist leader Olivier Faure came after three-time RN presidential candidate Marine Le Pen sparked a furor by casting doubt on the capacity of President Emmanuel Macron to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces if the RN won.

Referring to Macron’s controversial refusal to rule out sending French soldiers to Ukraine, Bardella said: “If I am prime minister tomorrow, French soldiers will not be sent to Ukraine.” “There are many European countries that do not want their soldiers sent to Ukrainian territory,” he said, evoking the risk of “co-belligerence” in the conflict. He said he was also opposed to sending longer-range missiles to Ukraine that could hit Russian territory “and place France and the French in a situation of co-belligerence”. “My compass is the interest of France and the French,” said Bardella.

Attal, for his part, said that Le Pen had sent a “clear message” by indicating that if the RN wins the election “there will be a kind of dispute between the prime minister and president over who is commander-in-chief of the army”. “It is a very serious message for the security of France,” he said.

Le Pen told the regional Telegramme daily that the president’s title as commander-in-chief of the armed forces was “honorific because it’s the prime minister who holds the purse strings”. Attal meanwhile added: “If we start to set red lines we are not helping Ukrainians”.

Le Monde with AP and AFP

Reuse this content