Macron recently re-elected to toughen stance on Russia: Analysts 2022-04-27 06:12:44

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Emmanuel Macron win over Analysts say a second term as president of France will enable him to adopt a more aggressive approach to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

In the run-up to the presidential election earlier this month, Macron eschewed his campaign in favor of shuttle diplomacy, meeting regularly with the heads of both sides — Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Despite his failure to broker peace, the cultivated role of statesman that Macron played was ultimately in his favour.

He got 58.6 percent, compared to the far-right Marine Le Pen, his main political rival who previously enjoyed warm relations with Putin, who got 41.5 percent.

Samuel Ramani, a doctoral student in international relations at St Anthony’s College, Oxford University, believes Macron will turn his rhetoric into action – as well as redouble diplomatic efforts.

“Now that Le Pen has lost, Macron will push for a complete energy embargo, as he has already said that France is not dependent on Russian gas,” he told Al Jazeera.

The French president will also “build on recent heavy artillery transfers to Ukraine and €100 million.” [$106m] with weapons sent in the first two months of the war.”

With the election pressures gone, he added, “Macron will have more freedom to deal with Putin diplomatically while also making French policy toward Russia tougher.”

Since France currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, Macron’s re-election may also strengthen the positions of NATO and the European Union against Russia.

“Macron has also maintained EU integration and is one of the main sponsors of a common defense strategy, and the current conflict is an important test of his vision,” said Pierluigi Paganini, a cybersecurity and intelligence expert in Italy.

Macron has always maintained the autonomy of the European Union, and states that his operation must complement NATO’s territorial defense.

‘Fine Balance’

Macron’s meeting with Putin in the Kremlin at the beginning of February, before the invasion began, was mocked on social media – with photos showing the two leaders sitting at opposite ends of a long table.

Since then, he has been in regular contact with the Russian president, holding hours of talks that failed to change the course of the war.

Josephine Staron, director of international relations at the Paris-based think tank Sinopia, said Macron would not close negotiations with Putin unless there was a significant escalation in the conflict.

“Unlike other countries, Macron has been a bit more careful since the start of the war and has not, for example, insulted Putin, as US President Joe Biden did,” she said.

Geographical proximity is one reason for France’s caution, and being a nuclear power engaged in dialogue with Russia – which is also a nuclear member – is another.

If France says Putin has crossed the red line, then as a nuclear power, what does that mean for France? What will be her next step? She asked.

French President Emmanuel Macron met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier in February
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 7, 2022, for talks in a bid to find common ground on Ukraine and NATO. [File: Sputnik/AFP]

Taking a firmer stance toward Russia as the war continues and expands In the neighboring regions, the countries of the European Union and Washington are sending more weapons to Ukraine.

At a bend, Germany Tuesday The green light was given to the transport of armored vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft guns, and last week, days before it won the election, Macron said that France send Heavy artillery weapons – Caesar howitzers, Milan anti-tank missiles, and thousands of shells – to Ukraine.

Staron warned that the EU’s outspoken support for Zelensky could be interpreted by Putin as “participation in the war,” saying the bloc should tread carefully, especially after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. comments Monday regarding the conflict escalating into World War III.

“There are two solutions,” she said. “Remain completely neutral, or help Ukraine – but not to the point where we cross the red line, which, as Putin said, will go to war against Russia.

“It’s a delicate balance.”

Oil and gas embargo

Many fear the risk of an acceleration of the conflict if neighboring countries are forced into the fray, with the recent bombing of Russian-backed forces allegedly. Transnistria region In Moldova showed.

The United States had previously warned that Russian forces could launch “pseudoscience” operations To create a pretext to invade other countries – the accusations were rejected by Moscow.

If the conflict widens, the EU may finally give in to what Zelenki has been demanding for months: an embargo on oil and gas.

On Wednesday, the gas row with Russia’s Gazprom exploded cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, saying the two countries had failed to pay in rubles — a move demanded by Moscow after being hit by Western sanctions.

Although France is less dependent on gas from Russia than other European countries, shutting down energy pipelines would be devastating to the continent.

Moreover, the consequences of the oil embargo are likely to cause a recession in Europe, Paganini said

“While the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other countries have imposed sanctions on Russia, the revenue from Russian exports since the beginning of the invasion is not declining,” he said.

Even if European governments agree to halt Russian coal imports starting in August, that is not enough. Oil prices will rise on a global scale.”

He added that the use of alternative oil reserves from the Middle East and Africa will take time, which in turn will force European countries to adopt an energy policy characterized by austerity.

With these risks in mind, the EU is unlikely to reach full agreement on such measures, especially given that some countries will be disproportionately affected.

“The French embargo on oil and gas would be a big step towards isolating Russia, but as long as other major powers, such as Germany and Italy, back down, and smaller countries, such as Hungary, resist it, it will be very difficult to achieve consensus from the European Union,” Ramani said.

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