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Coming days will be harder, Macron tells France in Ukraine speech

Refugees, energy independence, Putin’s lies: we summarise key points of president’s televised address tonight 

Emmanuel Macron

President Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation on the war on Ukraine on March 2 Pic: Screenshot / Franceinfo

French President Emmanuel Macron tonight denounced Russia’s war on Ukraine and offered his support to Ukrainians as well as to those contesting the Russian government from within the country during a 14-minute televised speech.

He warned that the coming days are likely to get harder and harder. 

The president also announced the government’s intention to create a plan to deal with economic fallout of the war and spoke of increasing France’s military spending and its energy independence.

He said France was prepared to welcome thousands of Ukrainian refugees. 

We summarise key points of President Macron’s speech:

  • He praised the quick response that Europe and France has taken in imposing financial and business-related sanctions on Russia
  • He said that his objective is to end the war
  • “We are not at war with Russia," he said
  • He said he wanted to remain in contact as much as possible with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but denounced a war "fed by a revisionist reading of the history of Europe"
  • He commended the courage of the Ukrainian people and their president, Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as the journalists covering the war
  • He praised Russians who speak out against the war
  • He said that several hundred thousand refugees from Ukraine are and will be welcomed in Europe and that “France will do its part”
  • He spoke of plans to increase France’s defence spending plan, decided in 2017
  • He also said the government would continue its strategy of “independence and investment in its economy, research and innovation”
  • He spoke of Europe “taking a new step forward” in terms of defence and said the heads of European states will gather on March 10 and 11 in Versailles to discuss this
  • France's economic growth will be "inevitably affected" by the war: “Our agriculture, our industry, many economic sectors are suffering and will suffer”, he said
  • He has asked the prime minister "to draw up an economic and social resilience plan."
  • He also talked about France striving for greater energy independence, and increasing its nuclear power capacities

Read some of President Macron’s quotes from his speech tonight, translated here.

Background information

Russia reported its own military casualties for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine began last week on February 24, stating around 500 of its soldiers have been killed.

Ukrainian President Zelensky claimed the number was 6,000 earlier today. Ukraine has not revealed how many of its soldiers have died. 

The United Nations human rights office said yesterday (March 1) that it had confirmed 136 Ukrainian civilians have died, including 13 children, with a further 400 wounded. It said this number could be much higher. 

Ukraine’s health ministry meanwhile claimed 352 civilians have been killed, including 14 children. 

The UN General Assembly voted earlier this evening to demand Russia stop its invasion of Ukraine. 141 countries voted in favour of this with five against and 35 abstaining. 

Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria were the countries who voted against. China and India were among the countries that abstained. 

The vote is not legally binding but can have an influence based on international pressure. 

Meanwhile, officials from Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet for a second round of negotiations in Belarus tomorrow, following unsuccessful talks on Monday (February 28). 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, with heavy bombing of Ukraine’s second biggest city Kharkiv. At least 21 people are reported to have died in the past day there. 

Read our coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in chronological order below:

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