The French Policy Reset Towards Russia
PARIS, Sept. 9, 2019 (EIRNS)—The steps toward French-Russian cooperation continue to develop. An interesting piece in Le Figaro by Isabelle Lasserre, a strongly anti-Russian journalist, entitled “The Reasons That Guided Macron’s Pro-Russian Turn,” reports that French President Emmanuel Macron had already argued against the EU sanctions against Russia when he was Finance Minister under President François Hollande. When Macron became President, these ideas matured under the influence of his adviser on Russia, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, and prompted him to change his view on Crimea, calling its return to Russia a “mere military gesture.” As a member of the Socialist Party, Chevènement played an important role as a nationalist against Mitterrand’s support for the Maastricht Treaty, and earlier had resigned as Mitterrand’s Defense Minister in opposition to the 1991 Iraq War.
Le Figaro cites an Elysée source on the reasons for Macron’s strong shift now, the main one being “a real preoccupation of the state of world affairs”: “The relationship with Russia cannot be understood if one doesn’t integrate it into the global foreign policy of France,” reports the Elysée source. “The deconstruction of all mechanisms of crisis management and of the multilateral order has become too dangerous. It must be countered. France wants to contribute to the emergence of a new international world order,” said the source. The analysis and the French ambition are based on the “long run,” and are nourished by a realistic recognition that “since its grand comeback on the international scene, Russia is indispensable to the resolution of the great crisis of the moment: It is an indispensable piece in the puzzles of Syria, Libya, Iran and Ukraine, four situations in which French diplomacy has invested a lot,” reports Le Figaro.
There is also the “the right occasion,” says Lasserre, stating that the France’s holding the rotating G7 presidency and that of the Council of Europe were two important moments when France could act. According to the Russian specialist at the French Institute of International Affairs (IFRI) the “alignment of the stars” helps as well: the election of Zelensky, the political transition in Germany, the crisis in Italy, the Brexit crisis, have created a vacuum of power of which Macron has taken advantage. The difficulties between the French-German couple and the uncertainties of the Trump Presidency have also contributed, the source says. A diplomatic source at the Institut Montaigne also speculates that it’s not to be excluded that Macron’s turn towards Russia was viewed with interest by Trump, who responded well to Macron.
The weakness in Macron’s offensive towards Russia, is that it is also motivated by the idea to break the Russia-China alliance, to which Putin responded with a clear “no” at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Macron is not breaking with China, but wants to do his best not to deal with both countries as a unity.