Ukraine: Macron slammed for making it ‘too easy for Putin
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French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone on Sunday in a bid to stop the Soviet leader from escalating tensions with Ukraine.
After the phone call, Mr Macron said the Russian leader made a “firm commitment to carry out all useful actions to avoid escalation, reduce risks and preserve peace”.
But the following day, Vladimir Putin officially recognised the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as independent states to Ukraine.
The move brought shame to the French leader whose failed efforts to act as Europe’s mediator come at a time his country and government are holding the EU’s Council rotating presidency.
But Mr Macron is not the only one in France who has shamed the nation for failing to provide a strong anti-Putin stance.
French voters will head to the polls in April to elect their next President.
When it comes to the country’s stance on Russia, Emmanuel Macron’s rivals also lack a strong opposition to Mr Putin’s politics.
National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, a strong ally of the Russian President, said Putin’s decision to move Russian troops into Ukraine was a “really regrettable” act.
But the far-right leader argued she still believed in diplomacy to solve the matter.
The other far-right candidate and political pundit, Eric Zemmour, went even further in saying that he did not believe the EU should back sanctions against the Russian regime and defended Putin as a “Russian patriot entitled to defend Russian interests”.
On the far-left, the situation is not so dissimilar.
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Candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon called Russia “a partner” and has often expressed hostility toward the United States.
Valerie Pecresse, the candidate for the Conservative party Les Republicains, condemned the Russian President’s actions on Tuesday but focused her blame on President Macron for his “arrogant and solitary diplomacy”.
In January, she proposed a “European conference on security” in partnership with Russia, calling on “our Russian friends” to engage with Europe.
In a study conducted last month by the European Council on Foreign Relations, only 47 percent of French respondents said they trust NATO to protect EU citizens against a Russian attack.
Speaking to Politico, Tara Varma, a senior policy fellow at the think tank, said: “The complacency towards Russia transcends the French political class and it is evident on the right.
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“Before it was restricted to the extreme right and left but now it also affects the governing parties.”
On Tuesday, the European Union agreed new sanctions that will blacklist more politicians, lawmakers and officials, ban EU investors from trading in Russian state bonds, and target imports and exports with separatist entities, the EU foreign policy chief said.
Germany put the brakes on a new gas pipeline and Britain hit Russian banks with sanctions. The Russian foreign ministry criticised the new measures against Russia as “illegitimate”.
With Western concern about Russia’s intentions fuelled by Moscow’s recognition of the two breakaway regions, NATO’s Stoltenberg said in Brussels: “Every indication is that Russia is continuing to plan for a full-scale attack of Ukraine.”
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