Macron hasn’t changed his tune on Russia

While Russia is attempting to break Ukraine with cold and famine, French President Emmanuel Macron returns to his pro-Russian views, writes Jerzy Haszczyński for Rzeczpospolita daily

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Jerzy Haszczyński

Sometimes we hear, even in Poland, how French President Emmanuel Macron is such a wise man — after all, he is someone who can even have interesting conversations with Michel Houellebecq.

However, either this wisdom does not translate into an understanding of geopolitics on the continent in which France wants to play a leading role, or something even worse: The French president quite seriously believes that the culprit of the greatest crime in Europe since World War II should be rewarded and its contrived concerns should be listened to.

This grim either/or is brought up by Macron’s Saturday interview on French public television. He referred to Vladimir Putin demanding a “security guarantee” for his country before the Russian invasion against Ukraine begun.

Macron concludes — after 10 months of Russian war crimes in Ukraine — that the West “must respond” to those demands. He even specified the exact demands: Russia’s objection to NATO expansion and the deployment of weapons that “could threaten it.”

There is no doubt that Macron believes that NATO “must respond” means granting some sort of guarantees to Russia if it sits down to discuss peace. He said that himself.

Macron was talking about treating Russian concerns seriously and its inclusion in the European security architecture up until the last moments before the war begun. It is an obsession, caused mainly by the French aversion to America’s dominance in NATO, in addition to completely ignoring the views of allies on the eastern flank.

However, he has now had a chance to find out what kind of country Russia is with every day that has passed since Feb. 24. Since that date, the “evil” West has not let Ukraine launch its missiles against Russian military targets outside the Ukrainian border, even in retaliation. Macron knows this.

Macron expressed his concern for Russia’s security while the Kremlin realizes its plan to break Ukraine with cold and famine. It is an especially tough moment for Ukraine also because it is pressured to start negotiations with the invader.

If we were to take Macron’s statements about the necessity to consider Moscow’s concerns regarding NATO arriving at “Russia’s doorstep,” then why would we approve Finland and NATO membership? Moscow would not like that, after all.

The war did not change Macron. It is a painful experience for countries that are geographically close to Russia, which did not threaten it but are nonetheless threatened.

The concern to make “security guarantees” for a country that was recently declared by the European Parliament to be a “state sponsor of terrorism” was not and will not be a Polish concern. And this should be a painful experience for France, which is only thinking about its interests.

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