PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Monday that the Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces could last “weeks, even months.”
“The counteroffensive has started. It’s going to be deployed for several weeks and even months. We are supporting it within the limits that we set ourselves,” Macron said alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda at the Elysée Palace.
Ukrainian forces have stepped up operations in the last couple of days and announced on Monday evening that they had liberated several villages in the south and the east of the country.
“We want [the counteroffensive] to be as victorious as possible so that we can then start a period of negotiations in good conditions,” he added.
The French, Polish and German leaders were meeting in Paris to discuss Ukraine’s request for security guarantees and a clear pathway to NATO membership ahead of a summit of the military alliance in July. However, on Monday evening it appeared that the leaders were sending different signals in a press conference that was held ahead of a working dinner in Paris.
While Duda called for Ukraine to be given “a clear signal, a clear perspective” on its future membership of NATO, Scholz was less forthcoming, noting that debates were “intense.”
“We have been discussing security guarantees since the start of the war … We have taken decisions to support Ukraine for as long as needed. This debate is intense between us, between Germany, France, and its U.S. partners,” Scholz said. “We will finalize [our position] when we have the results of our talks. But … it must be very concrete.”
Earlier this month, Macron called for Ukraine to be given “strong and tangible” security guarantees but stopped short of calling for full-fledged NATO membership.
Macron, Scholz and Duda all pledged that their countries would continue supporting Ukraine during the counteroffensive. Scholz told reporters that Germany would support Ukraine for “as long as necessary” and said his country had also set up systems to repair weapons during the current assault.
Macron meanwhile said that France had “intensified deliveries” of weapons, ammunition and armored vehicles.