The new French president Emmanuel Macron is now elected, despite the “hidden” support for his rival coming from Moscow who wanted to see Marine Le Pen winning the presidential race.
Usual Congratulations from Moscow
In fact, the Russian plot in Europe is dead; the presence of an atlanticist candidate will not permit Russia to have a counter-power inside Europe and create the most horrific situation for the Anglo-Saxons. To see part of the Rimland shift to Heartland position, (full explanation with Mackinder and Spykman geopolitical theory). But the change is not for the moment. Russia did not have time to complain about the situation. After the usual congratulations, the time is now to foresee how France and Russia can work together or otherwise.
Macron: a dialogue with all regimes around the world
First of all, about Macron’s position: first of all, he wants a demanding dialogue with Russia but he agrees on the necessity to talk with all regimes around the world. The first point of tension could be about sanctions, even if the new president wants to decrease sanctioning of regimes, according to his manifesto, this could be possible only if Moscow respects the Minsk agreement. This first point could be a wall for five years. But with the phone call between Macron and Putin on the 18th of May, it seems that both sides want to work together and they desire to change the Normandy format to have better cooperation. Just a few words, but that can be a lot nowadays to change the situation.
A NATO partnership?
The other problem could be the enhancement of the European defence. In fact, Russia is not against a better European defence, because such power could be an interesting partner for Russia that could allow greater protection. The real problem here is the NATO partnership. Emmanuel Macron said NATO and European defence are complementary. Such ideas worry Russia because by it could mean that, for Moscow, Europe will not be totally sovereign. No removal of NATO forces in the East will continue to stress Russia about its own position. But the Trump mandate could, maybe, bring a decrease of European relations with NATO and a more independent Europe from American protections but actually for the future its seems to be very complicated. With the process of the removal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, to some France is becoming the first military power in Europe and the only country which has the capacity to intervene everywhere. No other countries in the EU seem to radically increase their military power and the protection of the US is key for many Europeans countries.
Syria, common positions
Surprisingly, Syria could be a point of common interest. Why? Macron’s position could be better than the Hollande position. First, Macron said Bachar Al-Assad, ruler of Syria, is a criminal and the removal of the Alawite president is necessary but, crucially, only if the political stability of the country is assured. And that is exactly the Russian position, the protection of Bachar regime for all this time is exactly the project of Russia, because Moscow haven’t found any good substitutes to Bachar yet. In fact, Russia do not totally protect Bachar Al-Assad, they protect a regime that they consider leads to more stability (Russia has 170 ethnical groups, so they have experience here) and also preserve the interest of Russia in the region. The preservation of Syria is necessary in order to avoid a domino effect that could reach Lebanon, the Caucasus, central Asian countries and in the end, southern Russian borders.
Maybe the weak point of their relations could be the military intervention under UN decision, approved by Macron because we don’t know much information about such decision. Who is the target for example? The Syrian regime? Terrorist groups? In that case who are these terrorists? Many questions, for the moment without responses.
The future French-Russian Relations
If Macron wants to cooperate with Russia he should to avoid hypocritical statements such as those in which he declares that Moscow violates regularly international laws. This type of sentence is very dangerous, even if they can agree on some positions. Macron should understand that Moscow violates international law as much as western countries. If we take some comparison, we have the aggression in 2003 in Iraq or more recently in Libya or the violation of Syrian airspace. Macron needs to understand sometimes a country like Russia, which actually rests its foreign policy on international laws, sometimes prefers to violate some laws in order to protect its own interests.
But not everything is problematic. According to Arnaud Dubien, the director of “Observatoire franco-russe” for Courrier de Russie, French and Russian relations are better than the relations in Moscow with the rest of the European capitals. In fact, the nomination of Philippe Etienne to advise Jean-Yves Le Drian at foreign affairs is a good sign because he worked in Moscow during the 90’s and speaks Russian. He is not Russophile excessively but he wants to work with the Russian Federation.
In the end, everything’s not lost for Franco-Russian relations, even if many cases could lead to another breaking point between these two countries. Macron has stayed in the Gaullist-Mitterand vision. France is between Washington and Moscow and needs to avoid a certain servility for one capital or the other; France need to have its own independent foreign policy.
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