NewsMacron shifts stance on Russia amid growing European tensions

Macron shifts stance on Russia amid growing European tensions

Macron shifts stance on Russia amid growing European tensions
Images source: © PAP | PAP/EPA/Gonzalo Fuentes / POOL
4:47 AM EDT, March 10, 2024

In the initial stages of the conflict in Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron proactively reached out to Vladimir Putin to maintain dialogue with the Russian leader. However, his stance has since shifted markedly towards confrontation with Russia. What ignited this change in the French president?

Andrzej Byrt, former Polish ambassador to Germany and France: Macron's early diplomacy towards Putin and Russia at large continued the approach of his predecessors, one that underestimated Russia’s potential threat and favored friendly relations. Russia leveraged this underestimation, using divide-and-conquer strategies to weaken its adversaries.

Putin played into France's past contentions with the United States and its affable relations with Russia, believing Macron would seek to leverage his relationships with Russia to bolster his and the European Union's positions, particularly in the wake of Angela Merkel’s departure.

However, this was a misjudgment of Russia’s intentions, fueled by France's self-interest. The revelation of French ruling party officials continuing business in Crimea even after Russia's aggressive actions there highlighted a naivety within France. However, it was seen differently from a Polish perspective.

But Macron's perspective has evolved.

The extensive nature of crimes committed by Russian forces unmasked the true severity of their actions, prompting a realization within French leadership that these cannot be overlooked.

Amid broad condemnation of Russia, Macron recognized the need for action to fulfill his ambitions of EU leadership, especially in contrast to Germany's more hesitant support for Ukraine.

Macron envisioned this as an opportunity to push for European political unity and possibly the creation of EU armed forces, spurred by the extent of Russian atrocities.

How significant is this development?

An EU military would complement NATO, not oppose it, offering a crucial support mechanism, particularly in potential scenarios requiring a shift in American focus towards Asia.

Macron also sends a message to Germany.

He has prodded German Chancellor Olaf Scholz over military support for Ukraine, positioning himself as a decisive leader firmly opposed to Putin's aggression.

Having discarded any illusions about Russia, Macron is now confronting Russian hybrid operations within France and asserting his stance more boldly, even as the possibility of French military involvement in Ukraine has been hinted at but not confirmed.

French political extremes express concerns over Macron's strategy, illustrating the complex internal dynamics as France navigates its response to the conflict in Ukraine amid Russian influence campaigns.

In the broader context, how will the situation in Ukraine evolve?

The prospect for Ukraine to regain territories currently under Russian control appears slim, with the outcomes of future U.S. elections potentially influencing the direction of the conflict. The model of divided sovereignty, akin to historical precedents in Korea and Germany, emerges as a possibility for resolving the situation.

Is Macron becoming a leading figure in Europe?

Macron's proactive stance on Russia, influenced by the severe Russian transgressions, positions him as a prominent leader in Europe. He may aspire to a grander role in line with his unique political and personal journey.

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