The Kremlin and France

On 8 February 2022, The Times in London published an article by Charles Bremner, Alistair Dawber and Bruno Waterfield with the title ‘Macron visits Putin with a peace plan for Ukraine‘ [paywall].

Here is a contemporary account of the visit reported in The Telegraph on 9 February 2022 by Bruno Maçães: ‘Macron is offering Ukraine a poisoned peace plan.’

Here is John Hughes-Wilson’s response.

Having been a professional Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) Soviet watcher for many years, it is worth pointing out two enduring interests that override all other factors.

First, since 1945 the Kremlin has had a consistent policy of building a ‘glacis’ against the West. Stalin was no fool and that is precisely what the Warsaw Pact and ‘Eastern Europe’ were intended to provide. 

Washington talked openly of ‘fighting the Commies’ from 1945 on. That, and the US nuclear arsenal, frightened the Politburo – and still does.

Second, Emmanuel Macron is merely using the opportunity to press Charles De Gaulle’s agenda of anti-Anglo-Saxon sentiment, based on the latter’s ambition and sense of grievance, summed up by his dream of ‘a certain idea of France‘ contained in the first line of his memoir.

Macron see his chance as President of the EU’s rotating leadership to move Paris away from NATO once and for all, to try and cobble together a Europe/EU led by ‘the French jockey riding the German horse.’ 

Berlin, terrified of losing a cheap supply of gas to fuel its economy, is only too happy to slipstream Paris on this issue and stay quiet.

Putin doesn’t want a wider European war – and never has. 

Russia wants, not unreasonably, to reannex the Russian speaking Donbas region – which has been in rebellion against Kiev since 2014 – and to control the contiguous territories bordering Crimea.

So, Putin and Macron’s interests coincide: Putin to weaken NATO and keep the Americans off his doorstep; and Macron to further his Gaullist dream of a permanent French-led EU/Europe.

Kremlin capabilities are not necessarily Kremlin intentions. But external political consequences are not under Putin’s control: witness Finland and Swedens’ forthcoming applications to join NATO.

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