“The idea that France can be a mediator in the Ukrainian conflict is a pure illusion”

Dn the Russo-Ukrainian war, France chose a flawed position by trying to reconcile two contradictory approaches. On the one hand, President Macron calls for dialogue with Moscow and for negotiation, in line with the tradition of European balance of powers, attached to counterbalancing American influence on the continent.

The desire to spare Russia is also fueled by a pro-Russian line, dominant on the far right and among Republicans, which maintains that Russian humiliation would be an unforgivable fault. On the other hand, as a member of NATO and the European Union (EU), France contributes modestly to the collective effort and supports Ukraine both diplomatically and militarily.

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However, far from creating a position favorable to France, this ambiguity has so far had only disadvantages. Far from consolidating its place as a leading military power in the EU, the current policy signals its eventual marginalization. The idea that France could be a mediator in this conflict is a pure illusion, the UN or Turkey, for very different reasons, are better placed to play this role.

The war is in an escalation phase

Indeed, Putin has clearly displayed his contempt for European leaders, whom he considers subordinate to the United States, and will challenge them as mediators. Moreover, the desire for dialogue with Russia, justifiable before the invasion, appears more and more as a weak position with the Ukrainians and, beyond that, with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Rightly or wrongly, many of our European partners do not see France as a reliable ally in this crisis. The suspicion, often very directly expressed in Ukraine and Poland, is that France is ready to negotiate a cobbled-together peace on Ukraine’s back. In any event, the latter will not agree to give up its sovereignty, especially since the military victories in kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson have galvanized a society mobilized to defend its independence, its place in Europe and a democratic future.

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As the latest developments show, the war is in an escalation phase: Ukraine is playing its survival as a nation, and Putin the future of his regime. The rise in power of the Ukrainian army and the mobilization in Russia are a good illustration of the intensification of a conflict which is now mobilizing entire societies. The idea that we must avoid humiliating Russia has never made sense, even though Putin has, all shame drunk, annexed nearly a quarter of its Ukrainian neighbor, well beyond the Donbass.

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