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HomeAll ArticlesEmmanuel Macron’s remarks on Russia set alarm bells ringing

Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on Russia set alarm bells ringing

Domestic critics of Emmanuel Macron, Nato hardliners and the leadership in Ukraine will be suspiciously examining the French president’s late-night remarks at his Moscow press conference on Monday for signs of freelancing.

At one level, Macron, three months from a re-election campaign, stuck pretty faithfully to the script he had exhaustively agreed with his Nato partners before his meeting with Vladimir Putin, but at another level his particular view of Russia as a European nation, and lofty talk of a new security guarantees, will have set alarm bells ringing.

The specifics of the five hours of discussions between the French and Russian leaders, and points of convergence, were kept from the world at the press conference, but that did not stop Macron hinting at shifts in Nato’s outlook that some members say should never be made in response to military intimidation.

The French president started by stressing the historically unacceptable presence of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders. He also faithfully repeated the offers made by Nato and the US concerning mutual limitation of military deployments, more transparency for military activities or even a limitation of the deployment of short-range and intermediate missiles. He said in these areas Moscow and the west had the same demands. Moscow has already said it is ready to discuss these points but considers a commitment from Nato to cease all enlargement its primary demand.

Here, Macron hinted at the need to acknowledge Russian concerns. He states: “There is no security for Europeans if there is no security for Russia”, a formulation of respect but one that also legitimises Moscow’s demands for a new security architecture based on the Russian concept of “indivisible security”. But what Macron meant was unclear.

He said he firmly opposed repeating “the mistakes of the past about spheres of influence”, but then said “Russia is European. Whoever believes in Europe must know how to work with Russia and find the ways and the means to construct the European future among Europeans.”

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