“A kick in the back” : the announcement of the Aukus partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, on September 15, 2021, had sparked an unprecedented quarrel between France and its three Anglo-Saxon allies, then accused of “duplicity”or even ” treason “. The agreement, negotiated in the greatest secrecy, without notifying Paris, had led to the termination of a spectacular contract for the delivery of twelve French conventional submarines, in favor of nuclear-powered submersibles. And weakened the commitment of France in the vast Indo-Pacific region.
Eighteen months later, American, British and Australian leaders have taken care to warn their French interlocutors in recent weeks, without revealing the details of the partnership unveiled on Monday March 13 by Joe Biden and the British Prime Ministers, Rishi Sunak, and Australian, Anthony Albanese. “Water has flowed under the bridges”recognizes a French diplomatic source, while the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has forced the Western allies to close ranks.
Basically, French officials continue to regret the Australian choice, considering that the late contract signed by Naval Group would have, among other things, made it possible, due to a large local subcontracting effort, to develop the “sovereignty” of their Australian partner, now dependent on American nuclear know-how. In Paris, there is discreet concern about the risk of proliferation.
Do not lock yourself into a logic of blocks
And we remain cautious in the face of an alliance primarily intended to contain China militarily. Emmanuel Macron, who is due to go to Beijing on April 6 and 7 to meet President Xi Jinping, is anxious not to lock himself into a block logic, while tensions between China and the United States continue to grow. in intensity over the months.
However, Emmanuel Macron did not wait for the war in Ukraine to overcome his anger towards the United States. A first step had been taken during a one-on-one with Joe Biden in Rome, on the sidelines of a G20 summit, at the end of October 2021, during which the American president had also begun to raise awareness among his European allies about the subject of Russian invasion plans. Reconciliation was initiated later with Australia, when the new Labor government came to power in May 2022, toppling the Conservative cabinet led by Scott Morrison, the man who broke up the government without notice. French contract, treated until his defeat of ” liar “ in Paris.
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