Macron pressed Canada to ease Russia sanctions – Reuters

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The French leader has reportedly lobbied for a waiver for titanium, which is vital for aerospace giant Airbus

French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to give Airbus and other aerospace firms relief from sanctions on Russian titanium, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing sources.

Canada broke ranks with allies and banned supplies from Russian manufacturing giant VSMPO-AVISMA – the world’s largest producer of processed titanium – in a sanctions package against Moscow unveiled in February.

Titanium is important to the aerospace industry and is prized for its strength relative to its weight. It is used mainly in aircraft engines and the landing gear of large planes.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters that Macron’s request was made during a phone call in March. A “source close to the French leader” reportedly said a “significant effort” had been made to convince Trudeau to grant an exemption for European companies.

“Many messages were passed at all levels,” the source added, referring to broad diplomatic and industrial pressure.

At least one other European government also weighed in to support the lobbying effort, according to a separate source.

Ottawa initially stood its ground, but later granted France-based Airbus and several other aerospace firms waivers from its sanctions.

“I think if the French government had not raised it continuously at that level, we would have held pretty firm,” a Canadian source told Reuters, describing Ottawa’s decision.

Canada has not said when the waivers will expire, but according to Reuters sources, the industry was given three years.

The EU has extensively sanctioned Moscow following the escalation of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, but it had held off on blacklisting VSMPO-AVISMA.

In December 2022, Airbus announced it was “decoupling” from Russian titanium. Rival aviation giant Boeing also claimed to have stopped purchasing supplies of the strategic metal from Russia in 2022.

Weaning industries off of Russian titanium and other critical minerals is proving difficult, Reuters wrote.

“The problem is a new titanium mill … takes years to build and it could take a year or two to get certified,” Kevin Michaels, managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

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