Ukraine crisis: Macron seeks dialogue with Russia

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France is preparing to hold talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian President in an effort to seek an end to the Ukrainian crisis.

The French President believes there is still room for diplomacy in the Ukrainian crisis; hence, he continues to push for dialogue with Russia despite signs pointing to a potential war.

According to the Associated Press, Macron’s stance reflects France’bdoths post-World War II tradition of carving its own geopolitical path, refusing to line up blindly behind the United States of America.

It is also part of Macron’s domestic political strategy amid campaigning for April’s presidential election, where nationalists are setting the agenda and war in Ukraine could prove an unwelcome distraction.

Amidst the crisis, France’s diplomacy-focused strategy complicates efforts by the U.S. and NATO to show a tough, united front against Russia. And experts question whether it will be enough to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Gabriel Attal, a French government spokesman said that Macron’s call with Putin on Friday morning has two goals, “to continue dialogue” and to “push Russia to clarify its position and the aim of (military) maneuvering.”

Moscow has denied it is planning an assault, but it has moved an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine in recent weeks and is holding military drills at multiple locations in Russia. That has led the United States and its NATO allies to prepare for the worst.

“Macron is at the heart of efforts towards de-escalation and will also speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the coming days,” Attal said.

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Dominique Moïsi, a French expert on geopolitics told the Associated Press that Macron has tried since in power “to reset the relationship between France and Russia and to do it based on a mix of being open and being firm. This is very laudable, but did it work? Will it work this time? That is the challenge.”

European diplomacy has helped cool tensions in the past. Wednesday’s talks took place in the so-called “Normandy format,” which helped to ease hostilities in 2015, a year after Putin ordered the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and the Russia-backed insurgency began in eastern Ukraine.

Soon after his election in 2017, Macron invited Putin to a meeting in the sumptuous Palace of Versailles, letting him be “very impressed by the grandeur of France,” according to the Russian president’s own words.

Macron also invited Putin to his summer residence at the Fort de Bregancon, on the French Riviera, in a rare honour meant to give a boost to peace talks with Ukraine during summer 2019.

“Macron has shown extreme confidence in his ability to seduce, to charm world leaders and starts with them a dialogue,” Moïsi said.

According to Moisi the French position has two question marks, “Will Macron have such power of seduction toward Putin?” and “Can France rally support from a large number of European countries?”

Macron had earlier affirmed, there will be retaliation and the cost for Russia will be very high as Paris is working in close coordination with Washington and EU partners to be ready for a joint response if there were to be a Russian offensive in Ukraine.

France also expressed its willingness to station troops in Romania as part of a NATO force. France’s defense minister is on a visit Thursday to Romania, which has a border with Ukraine, for talks on “deepening” defense ties, including in “armaments cooperation.”

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