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French Pro-Russian Opposition on the Move

Aug. 3, 2016 (EIRNS)—French parliamentarians and military are not on recess this summer but putting the heat on the government to end the sanctions against Russia, recognize Crimea as part of Russia, and distance itself, or better, withdraw again, from NATO’s integrated command.

A delegation of 12 French Parliament members, nine National Assembly Deputies, and three Senators, most of them from former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Les Républicains, visited Crimea July 29-31, ignoring the government’s attempt to prevent them, and the fury of the Ukrainian Embassy. Their aim was to see what changes have occurred since their trip a year ago, and to join Russia’s celebration of Navy Day in Sebastopol.

The delegation was headed by Thierry Mariani, who heads an LR faction called Droite Républicaine (Republican Right), which thinks of itself as Gaullist. Just prior to the visit, Mariani met with Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin, in their fourth meeting in 18 months.

At a press conference in Sebastopol, Mariani said, "For a country that is supposedly occupied, Crimeans sure look happy." Asked what their message would be to their fellow parliamentarians, he replied, "Simple: Go see Crimea for yourselves, and then form your own opinion." Mariani continued, "This question must be resolved as soon as possible, that Crimea is part of Russia. Crimea chose to become Russian; Crimea is Russia. Now let’s move onto something else. Let’s work to re-establish normal relations among European countries and Russia." And to rub it in, he said he hoped to be re-elected so that he could come back to Crimea with a larger delegation.

In early August, Sputnik France ran two interviews with retired Gen. Jean Bernard Pinatel, who called for France to withdraw from the integrated command of NATO, and to work closely with Russia, especially against terrorism. General Pinatel spent his military career in the paratroopers and special forces, before creating the international crisis group GPES under Giscard d’Éstaing, and was also active in Russia during the Chechen wars. Today he has his own intelligence consulting operation.

General Pinatel told Sputnik that France has more to gain by leaving NATO and working with Russia in the fight against terrorism.

Unfortunately, failing to recognize the British Empire hand behind the "American imperium" theory, his discussion is otherwise insightful: "For me NATO is a product of the Cold War that was mainly supported by the United States because the bloc serves to promote Washington’s interests. America’s foreign policy goals," he said,

"were expressed by Zbigniew Brzezinski in the mid-1990s. The former U.S. National Security Advisor urged Washington to make every effort to prevent Europe and Russia from forming an alliance since it would be detrimental to America’s global leadership."

"The North Atlantic Alliance has played the key role in promoting this strategy. NATO," he said,

"should be viewed as an instrument that U.S. policymakers use to present Russia as Europe’s competitor if not a potential opponent. It follows that those interests that NATO has protected in the post-Cold War do not coincide with those of France.

"Russia is our best partner in the fight against the Islamist threat. Today I am even more convinced that this is true, although not everyone shares my opinion," he said, noting, however, that "there are high-ranking politicians in France such as [former Prime Minister Francois] Fillon, a presidential candidate, and even lawmakers like Mariani and others, as well as military officials, who fully share my stance."

Most of those who favor a Franco-Russian alliance are coming from the right-wing spectrum of politics. It is not surprising, therefore, that Russian sources in France are at this point betting on a Sarkozy Presidency. Rumor has it that Sarkozy is ready to make a public commitment that Crimea be recognized as Russian.

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