Boris Johnson made an unexpected visit to Kiev on 9 April, with the Ukrainian Embassy in London sharing a photo on Twitter of the UK Prime Minister and President Volodymyr Zelensky with the caption “Surprise.”
Downing Street later stated the PM made the trip in “a show of solidarity” while offering new military and financial aid to Ukraine.
An irate Emmanuel Macron was was incandescent with fury when Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Ukraine, thereby upstaging his own plans to travel there, British daily newspaper, the Daily Mail, reported citing French media.
The UK Prime Minister made the unexpected trip on 9 April to Ukraine, where Russia has been conducting a special operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said the British leader travelled to Kiev in “a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people” and to present a fresh package of military and financial aid.
The French president, who is in the midst of fighting an election on Sunday in a runoff against right-wing Marine LePen, is said to have “ranted to advisers” about the British Prime Minister’s “populist” move.
Emmanuel Macron had been hoping to go to Kiev himself in his capacity as a de facto European Union leader. He was also hoping to drum up additional voter support in a tight national elections where right-wing leader Marine Le Pen has been keeping hot on his heels.
However, Johnson’s swift manoeuvre, which elicited plaudits, “cut the grass from under [Macron’s] feet,” French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaine is is quoted as saying.
Weighing in on the UK PM’s efforts to gain credit for his intervention in Ukraine while under fire at home over parties at 10 Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown, Macron is quoted as fuming:
“It’s so annoying to see Johnson still has this capacity to put himself front and centre when he hasn’t actually done very much since the start of this. Johnson just ‘does Johnson’ – it’s populism. He keeps repeating ‘Putin must fail’ but there’s nothing behind the words. He hasn’t actually done very much since the start of this.”
Johnson has indeed been engulfed by fall-out from the “partygate” storm, with the UK parliament launching an investigation to determine whether he misled MPs over parties in Downing Street during the lockdown. The premier was also recently fined by the Metropolitan Police for a surprise birthday party his wife Carrie threw for him at No 10 on 19 June 2020. In what many critics see as a means of deflecting attention from his shortcomings, Johnson has been zealously joining Washington and other NATO allies in offering military support to Kiev while slapping sweeping sanctions slapping sweeping sanctions on Russia for its actions in the neighbouring country.
On 24 February, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk appealed for help in defending themselves against ceaseless attacks by Ukrainian forces.
Despite Moscow’s repeated assertions that its goal is to target the country’s military infrastructure exclusively, western countries and their allies responded by imposing comprehensive sanctions against Russia. The European Union has also vowed to reduce its dependency on Russian energy. However, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that Europe might face dire consequences next winter if it imposes an embargo on Russian gas.
“We will not see the consequences of this [sanctions against Russian energy resources] in the spring and summer of 2022 [as gas storages have been replenished], but next winter, we will feel them if there is no more Russian gas,” Macron said in an interview with the Ouest-France daily.
Macron is at present bracing himself for Sunday’s final face-off with Le Pen in the national elections.
His lead over the right-wing candidate had grown to 14 percentage points just two days before the run-off, according to a poll conducted by OpinionWay and Kea Partners for Les Echos and Radio classique on Friday.
The survey of 2,329 people from April 20-22 found that 57 percent would vote for Macron and 43 percent for Le Pen.
Centrist Macron had finished the first round less than 5 percentage points ahead of Le Pen, with left-wing runner-up Jean Luc Melenchon urging his supporters to vote against Le Pen.