Ukraine war: ‘F*** but it’s not true!’, how Macron annoys some allies over his strategy with Putin
Since the beginning of the conflict, Emmanuel Macron does not want to break the dialogue with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
When the foreign ministers of NATO’s 30 nations met in Bucharest in late November to reaffirm and emphasize the alliance’s support for Ukraine and regional countries that feel threatened by Russia, France was conspicuously absent.
The head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna, accompanied President Emmanuel Macron during his state visit to the United States. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Bucharest. For its European allies, especially the countries closest to Russia, this absence of the French minister was an additional reason to question France’s position on the Ukraine conflict, even if it meant seeing it as a possible weak link in the Ukraine conflict. Western alliance supporting Kiev against Moscow.
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Two days after that meeting in Bucharest, Emmanuel Macron gave several interviews to French and American media in which he appeared to be sending conflicting messages about Ukraine, fueling increasingly public anger in some Eastern European capitals. The French president confirmed once again that it is up to Ukraine to choose the time for negotiations with Russia, and once again decided that when the time comes for these negotiations, Moscow will have to provide “security guarantees”. The Russian TASS news agency reported on this on its Twitter page.
Ukraine criticizes Macron
“Damn it, that’s not true!” Former Estonian President Toomas Ilves reacted on Twitter, echoing a sentiment widely shared among many of France’s Eastern European allies. Ukraine’s reaction was swift and unequivocal. Mykhailo Podoliak, chief of staff of President Volodymyr Zelensky, responded that the world needs security guarantees against Russia, not the other way around.
Despite France’s significant military and financial aid to Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron’s statements have sparked anger and concern among Eastern European and Baltic states, diplomats and former politicians say. This French position also undermines Emmanuel Macron’s own political project, which aims to give Europe “strategic autonomy” by uniting Eastern European countries in their desire to prioritize US protection for their own security.
According to an Eastern European diplomat, Emmanuel Macron has already “misinterpreted” Russia once and now fears it will happen again. Asked by journalists about the criticism following his latest statements on Russia, Emmanuel Macron responded on Tuesday when he arrived at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Albania: “We should not make a big deal and try to create controversy where there is none.
France shows its support for Ukraine
“I have always said the same thing, that is, in the end, there will be territorial issues related to Ukraine in the peace talks, and they belong to Ukrainians, and there will be issues of collective security in the whole region,” he added. The Elysee Palace did not immediately respond to Reuters’ inquiries on the matter.
French diplomats and representatives of the Republican Presidium emphasize that France has never hesitated to provide political, military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, and that Emmanuel Macron always pays attention to consulting Volodymyr Zelensky before his conversation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
After these statements about the “security guarantees” to be given to Russia, whose attack on Ukraine has led to the death of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of cities and the freezing of millions of inhabitants, there is also some irritation among France’s closest Western allies. and darkness as winter approaches.
“We never say what we think openly”
“In foreign policy, you never say everything you think publicly. It’s not enough to be right. You also have to say it at the right time, otherwise you risk getting the opposite of what you want. I say this casually. Gérard Araud, the former French ambassador to the United States, said that he recently wrote on Twitter without naming Emmanuel Macron.
The latest criticism from Paris is further angrier for French diplomacy as Emmanuel Macron tried to reassess his message in the spring by arguing that Russia should not be “humiliated”, sparking anger in Kyiv and other Eastern European capitals. In a widely-received speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, the French president called on non-aligned countries to break their silence on Ukraine or risk serving “some complicity in the cause of the new imperialism.”
France has also strengthened the supply of weapons to Ukraine and made it even more popular. In a way, the balancing act that Emmanuel Macron is involved in is hardly surprising. Since the election of the first president in 2017, the foreign policy of the President of the Republic consists of taking initiatives and trying to shake things up. In his eyes, the statements he made in 2019 about NATO in a state of “brain death” stimulated rather than disturbed the debate within the alliance.
Russia ? Macro error
Emmanuel Macron rarely goes back on his past statements. Colleagues who applaud her energy, willingness to tackle complex issues and ability to seize the good times say she tries to explain, convince and prove her success on the international stage. He has a growing number of critics and allies, but considers Russia his biggest diplomatic mistake.
In doing so, they are raising their guard against the mere mention of a military defeat for Russia, whose army has been retreating on land since the Ukrainian counteroffensive began at the end of the summer. If Russia must be clearly defeated for the Soviet Union’s former satellite countries in Eastern Europe so that it no longer poses a threat, the French president, for his part, believes that the possible defeat of Russia must be handled delicately.
It refers to an idea, widely held in France but disputed elsewhere, that the heavy financial and territorial sanctions imposed on Germany at the end of World War I under the Treaty of Versailles served as seeds of discontent.Germany and World War II. 20 years later. Some diplomats in Eastern Europe fear that Vladimir Putin, who sees the United States as the only real power in the Western camp, will simply use Emmanuel Macron to create discord within NATO and exploit the slightest Franco-German split.
Putin at Versailles
A senior Russian diplomat applauded Emmanuel Macron’s vision and desire to preserve future relations between Russia and France, which others want to sever all ties with. In 2017, since the first days of his presidency, Emmanuel Macron, who has been eager to restart the strategic dialogue with Russia, received Vladimir Putin at the Palace of Versailles. If the magnificence of this meeting flattered the Russian president, it did not lead to any substantial progress.
In the first half of this year, when France was the President of the Council of the European Union, it noted that it would keep communication channels open with the President of the Republic, Vladimir Putin, and recently, with the aim of establishing possible relations again. the security zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which is frequently bombed. Again without noticeable results.
Emmanuel Macron said that he will talk with his Russian counterpart “in the coming days” before going to Washington. This interview has not yet officially taken place.