In the midst of rising tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine, France wants to play the diplomacy card. Emmanuel Macron will meet this Friday by telephone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Poutine.
While thousands of Russian soldiers are still massed on the Ukrainian border, France will propose “a path of de-escalation”, indicated the Elysée before the interview.
Faced with the Russian and American outbidding, Emmanuel Macron intends to find another diplomatic path. His strategy: to put Europe back at the center of the discussions, a real challenge for the man who took over the presidency of the EU Council in early January.
So far, “the Europeans have not been involved in the negotiations when the crisis concerns them first and foremost”, analysis for CNEWS Cyrille Bret, teacher at Sciences Po Paris and co-author of the EurAsia Prospective blog.
promote France’s strengths
But after promising a “response” in the event of aggression from Ukraine, what levers does the French president have to negotiate with the Russian giant?
“With Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron was at the forefront of the European policy of sanctions against Russia, recalls Cyrille Bret. He can put in the balance a partial lifting of sanctions and offer the Russian president to emerge from the crisis with his head held high.
According to the researcher, Russia needs France because it is “one of the rare countries capable of involving Russia in the handling of several global issues: Syria, Iran, security in Africa, energy in Europe, etc”. Alongside an America that shows its fangs, Emmanuel Macron could therefore play the role of “good cop” against Vladimir Putin.
Emmanuel Macron, a voice apart?
If the French president has the ear of the Russian leader, it is also because he represents a dissonant voice within NATO since he declared in 2019 that the Atlantic alliance was “in a state of brain death. “. “France has a special position which differentiates it from the United States. This can work in favor of Emmanuel Macron,” said Cyrille Bret.
After numerous meetings, the talks between Americans and Russians are still at a standstill. On Wednesday, the United States rejected Russia, which demanded a written commitment on the non-enlargement of NATO to Ukraine and on the withdrawal of NATO forces from European countries. from the east.
The Germans and French returned to the diplomatic game on Wednesday, during a meeting in Paris with Russian and Ukrainian officials. The participants agreed to work towards a consolidation of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where the conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014. “A good signal” obtained “in difficult conditions”, welcomed Paris.