News ID: 106144
Publish Date : 24 August 2022 - 21:44
PARIS (Dispatches) -- French President Emmanuel Macron warned Wednesday that France faced “sacrifices” in a new era marked by climate change and instability caused by the Ukraine war that signaled “the end of abundance”.
After a summer of drought, massive wildfires and continuing loss of life in Ukraine, the 44-year-old leader delivered a stark speech at the start of the first cabinet meeting after the country’s traditional August holiday break.
“I believe that we are in the process of living through a tipping point or great upheaval. Firstly because we are living through... the end of what could seem like the end of abundance,” he said.
The speech appeared designed to prepare the country for what promises to be a difficult winter ahead, with energy prices rising sharply and many families struggling with inflation.
Ahead of the six-month anniversary of the Ukraine war, Macron had vowed on Tuesday that European support for Kyiv would continue “for the long term” despite the cost and impact on incomes.
“Our system based on freedom in which we have become used to living, sometimes when we need to defend it, it can entail making sacrifices,” Macron told ministers on Wednesday, reprising comments he made on August 19 during his holiday.
Macron had called on French people to “accept paying the price of liberty” during an address in the south of France.
In his speech Wednesday, he also referred to the severe drought over the summer in France, which has prompted water restrictions across most of the country and increased fears about the pace of climate change.
“This overview that I’m giving  -- the end of abundance, the end of insouciance, the end of assumptions -- it’s ultimately a tipping point that we are going through that can lead our citizens to feel a lot of anxiety,” Macron continued.
“Faced with this, we have duties, the first of which is to speak frankly and very clearly without doom-mongering,” he said.
Macron was re-elected to a second term in April but lost his parliamentary majority in elections in June, meaning Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne heads a minority government that depends on opposition parties to pass legislation.
French inflation was clocked at 6.1 percent last month, one of the lowest rates in Europe thanks to government price caps on electricity and gas, as well as tax cuts on petrol and diesel.
But trade unions are pushing for major wage increases and have called for a day of strikes and rallies on September 29.
The head of the hard-left CGT union, Philippe Martinez, told BFM television that the president’s speech was “inappropriate”, adding that the poorest were already paying the price of the war and that further sacrifices could not be expected.
“He’ll ask for them (sacrifices) and we will oppose them,” Martinez said.
Biden Announces $3bn 
in New Weapons Aid 
President Joe Biden announced nearly $3 billion in military aid to Kyiv on Wednesday -- the biggest U.S. package so far -- to mark Ukraine’s independence day.
In a statement, Biden signaled the firmness of Washington’s commitment to Ukraine’s struggle, saying the $2.98 billion for arms and other equipment aimed “to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term.”
The new funds will be for air defense systems, artillery and the much-in-demand ammunition for those systems, as well as radars and systems to counter Russian drones, Biden said.
Congratulating Ukraine on its independence, which was declared from the Soviet Union in 1991, Biden said the U.S. “is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue
 the fight to defend their sovereignty.”
“Today is not only a celebration of the past, but a resounding affirmation that Ukraine proudly remains -- and will remain -- a sovereign and independent nation.”
Thousands of soldiers on both sides and thousands of civilians have died in the largest-scale battles seen in Europe since World War II. Ukrainian armed forces are trained and armed by Western allies.
Despite rumors of a Ukrainian counter-offensive to try and retake large portions of occupied territory in the south, the battle lines remain largely frozen, indicating a possibly lengthy test of resolve for both sides, and also for Ukraine’s Western backers.
The funds released by Biden Wednesday can be used for immediate war costs, including acquisitions of supplies and arms, and are separate from the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), under which Biden has been able to order transfers of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine’s forces from existing U.S. military stockpiles.
On Friday, the Pentagon announced the latest package under the PDA: $775 million worth of various missiles, artillery, and anti-armor weapons and ammunition, as well as a fleet of armed mine-removal vehicles.


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