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Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron vow united front against Russia

President Joe Biden shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron after a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron after a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron have vowed to maintain a united front against Russia amid growing worries about waning support in the US and Europe for Ukraine’s war effort.

“Today, we reaffirm that, as I said, we’re going to stand together against this brutality,” the US president said.

“Putin thinks that he can crush the will of all those who oppose his imperial ambitions by attacking civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, choking off energy to Europe to drive up prices, exacerbating the food crisis.

“That’s hurting very vulnerable people not just in Ukraine but around the world and he’s not going to succeed.”

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Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron walk along the Colonnade of the White House (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The US president also signalled he might be willing to tweak aspects of his climate legislation which has raised concerns for France and other European allies.

Mr Biden was honouring his French counterpart with a grand state dinner on Thursday evening — the first of his presidency for a foreign leader.

Mr Macron’s visit to Washington has been tempered by his criticism of his host’s Inflation Reduction Act and the challenges both leaders face amid the mounting costs of keeping military and economic aid flowing to Kyiv with no end in sight for the Russian invasion.

Despite the differences, the pair sought to underscore that the US-France alliance remains solid and the West must hold fast against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Both leaders at an outdoor welcoming ceremony paid tribute to their countries’ long alliance, but they acknowledged difficult moments lay ahead as western unity shows some wear nine months into the war in Ukraine.

In Washington, Republicans are set to take control of the House of Representatives, where party leader Kevin McCarthy has said his party’s legislators will not write a “blank cheque” for Ukraine.

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Joe Biden with Emmanuel Macron in the Oval Office (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Across the Atlantic, Mr Macron’s efforts to keep Europe united will be tested by the mounting costs of supporting Ukraine in the war and as the continent battles rising energy prices that threaten to derail the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Mr Macron stressed that the issue has ramifications far beyond Ukraine’s borders.

“What is at stake in Ukraine is not just very far from here, in a small country somewhere in Europe,” he said. “But it’s about our values. And about our principles.

“Our two nations are sisters in the fight for freedom.”

Mr Biden indicated he would be willing to talk with Mr Putin if the Russian leader demonstrated that he seriously wanted to end the invasion, but the US president conditioned such talks on support from Nato allies.

“I’m prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding that he’s looking for a way to end the war,” he said. “He hasn’t done that yet.”

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Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron review the troops (Alex Brandon/AP)

The two leaders also discussed Mr Macron’s and other leaders’ concerns about the recently enacted clean energy law in the US.

Mr Macron has made clear that he and other European leaders are opposed to incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act that favour American-made climate technology, including electric vehicles.

Mr Biden acknowledged “glitches” in the legislation but said “there’s tweaks we can make” to satisfy allies.

“The United States makes no apology. And I make no apologies since I wrote it for the legislation we’re talking about,” he added about the legislation.

However, Mr Macron said that while the Biden administration’s efforts to curb climate change should be applauded, the subsidies would be an enormous setback for European companies.

“We want to succeed together, not one against the other,” he added. He said the US and France would “resynchronise” their clean energy efforts to ensure there is no “domino effect” that undermines clean energy projects in Europe.