France's Macron defends Russia sanctions, opponents warn of consequences
French President Emmanuel Macron defended on March 14 sanctions imposed on Russia by EU countries, during a special programme for which French channel TF1 invited all the major presidential election candidates.
"What we are trying to do as Europeans is to try to put an end to this war, without going to war," said Macron, who is running for re-election.
"So, sanctioning Russia so that it stops this offensive, helping Ukraine and specifically the Ukrainian people to live or survive, to defend itself, and isolating Russia internationally."
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen condemned the Russian invasion of its neighbour but warned of the effects of sanctions on the French.
"I do not want the French to commit suicide over sanctions decided by our leaders which do not take into account the daily lives of our countrymen," said Le Pen, who currently polls second behind Macron.
"I do not want them to lose their jobs, I do not want their businesses to go bankrupt, I do not want them to be unable to heat their houses, to feed themselves or to take their car to go to work," she added, in a reference to climbing energy prices that have had an increasingly damaging effect on the finances of French families.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon defended the use of some sanctions but insisted that 'price freezes' would be necessary to relieve the French and that, ultimately, fossil fuels had to be abandoned.
Speaking on refugees, Macron said France had to "take our part" in the flow of Ukrainians arriving in Western Europe, citing the figure of welcoming at least 100,000.
The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24 climbed to more than 2.8 million, United Nations data showed on Monday, in what has become Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War Two.
Though all major presidential candidates were invited for the programme dubbed 'France in the face of war,' it was not a debate as the current president has refused to part in debates until the first round of the election, on April 10.