Macron warns of ‘likely risk’ France will be cut off from Russian natural gas.


President Emmanuel Macron of France has warned that the country should brace itself for a total cutoff of Russian natural gas.

Speaking Thursday in an interview marking France’s national holiday, Bastille Day, Mr. Macron said there was a “likely risk” that the country would cut gas flows to Europe. He said the people of France should support alternative sources of energy, and prepare to have public lights switched off at night.

“It’s a very difficult scenario and we must prepare for it,” he added, although he noted that France, which draws about 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, was not as dependent on Russian gas as some of its neighbors.

“Russia is using energy, like it is using food, as a weapon of war,” Mr. Macron said. “This war will continue,” he added, noting that the summer and early autumn would “be very hard.”

The televised appearance was Mr. Macron’s first since his re-election in April, and he adopted a combative tone in trying to reassure the French that he was firmly at the wheel to address challenges ranging from inflation to climate change.

But with little end in sight to Russia’s war on Ukraine, he also warned that the economic impact of the war would become more acute, and that the people of France should ready themselves for the possible gas cutoff.

“I want the country to move forward,” Mr. Macron said. “I will do everything to find intelligent compromises along that course.”

Since taking office in 2017, Mr. Macron had broken with the widely observed presidential tradition of Bastille Day televised interviews, giving only one previously, in 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

His decision to return to the tradition on Thursday suggested he was eager to shore up support and to give France a sense of direction.

Mr. Macron said that to tackle the gas shortage, the government would prepare a measured conservation plan to limit energy use.

France would also continue looking to diversify its gas sources, he said.

Though France is less dependent than European neighbors like Germany on Russian gas and oil, its relative sovereignty depends in part on upgrading the country’s aging nuclear reactors.

Earlier this month, Élisabeth Borne, the French prime minister, told lawmakers that France would renationalize its state-backed electricity giant, Électricité de France, which produces most of the country’s electricity, as well as operating all of its nuclear plants.

“The energy transition requires nuclear power,” she said.

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