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Macron plays Russian card as part of strategy to place France at center of international stage

11 6 0

In his annual address to French ambassadors from around the world in Paris on August 27, President Emmanuel Macron repeated the message he had delivered in front of Vladimir Putin at his summer residence the previous week: Europe would be committing a major strategic error if it continued to exclude Russia from its councils. It was time, he said, to “reshuffle the cards” in this difficult relationship and he repeated his call for a – as yet undefined – “common architecture” linking Russia and Europe.

To be fair, this is not entirely new music emanating from the Elysee Palace. Macron invited Putin to Versailles less than a month after his election in 2017. He traveled to the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg in 2018, where France was the guest of honor. And he seemed to want to associate Russia with the G7, even without re-integrating her formally into that structure, when he invited President Putin to the Bregancon Fort on August 19, just days before the G7 summit in Biarritz. The contrast has been striking for two years now between France’s openness to Russia and London’s increasing hostility to her.

Yet Macron’s new Russian initiative, which he reaffirmed in the form of an order given in public to his diplomats and ministers, is clearly designed to send a new message. France under Francois Hollande adopted a stern anti-Russian tone after the Ukraine conflict of 2014 and, although Macron does not propose to lift any sanctions, he clearly wants that policy to change.

His unilateral actions, like the invitations issued to the Indian prime minister and the Iranian foreign minister to attend the G7, are intended to place France at the center of the international stage. Indeed, far from ending any supposed isolation of Russia, these actions, taken together, are clearly designed to end what has sometimes appeared to be France’s isolation in Europe.

Paris knows that, however hawkish Angela Merkel may have sounded over Ukraine, Germany continues to trade massively with Russia.........

© RT.com