French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Moscow on Monday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss the undeclared US-provoked missile crisis in Europe. Both leaders held a press conference afterwards where they praised the importance of their talks and expressed optimism about finding a political solution to Russian-NATO tensions as well as the unresolved Ukrainian Civil War. President Macron surprised observers the day after, however, when he declared in Kiev that “I obtained that there will be no degradation nor escalation. My aim was to freeze the game, to prevent an escalation and open up new perspectives… this objective for me is fulfilled.”
This was immediately challenged by Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov who countered that “This is simply not possible…France is a member of NATO, but it is not the leader there – the leadership belongs to a completely different country in the bloc. So what kind of deals can we talk about here?” The resultant confusion requires some clarification about exactly what Presidents Putin and Macron discussed in Moscow the day prior. While the details might never be known to the public, it appears to be the case that President Macron is exaggerating and Peskov’s interpretation of everything is the most accurate.
The so-called “degradation” or “escalation” that the US has been scaremongering about for so long is nothing more than Russia carrying out military exercises within its own border and on the territory of its Belarusian mutual defense ally. Both sets of drills are legal, purely defensive, and no external party has any legitimate grounds to criticize them. Be that as it is, they’ve been misportrayed by the US-led Western Mainstream Media as allegedly being preparations for a full-fledged “Russian invasion” of Ukraine. That’s a false assessment, but it’s one that President Macron appears to have been addressing in his questionable comment.
From that inaccurate perspective, it nevertheless does indeed appear as though he “obtained that there will be no degradation nor escalation” and that he had thus succeeded in “freez[ing] the game”. That’s because there was never any credibility to those scenario forecasts of a “Russian invasion” of Ukraine being launched under the cover of military drills on that country’s own territory and Belarus’. That being the case, casual observers who don’t know any better would be forgiven for believing the French leader since the optics are certainly what he described them as: essentially freezing the state of affairs for now. President Macron therefore likely wanted to make himself seem more important than he actually is.
This isn’t just for ego’s sake (though that likely also played a major role, to be sure), but to project France as more important in Europe than Germany is under its new government. Speaking of which, Chancellor Olaf Scholz will visit Moscow soon, but it’s important to point out that President Macron beat him to it. This observation will further reaffirm the emerging perception that German leadership of Europe isn’t what it used to be under former Chancellor Merkel. It appears to be changing in the sense that France has taken advantage of confusion within the German coalition government to convey decisiveness, resoluteness, and vision to the European masses that are yearning for leadership.
Considering all of this, the Putin-Macron Summit can be considered a positive step in the direction of Europe playing a larger role in actively attempting to de-escalate Russian-NATO tensions and resolve the Ukrainian Civil War, but it was far from the game-changing event that the French President misportrayed it as. Nevertheless, observers should remember that he did so for political reasons largely related to projecting France as Europe’s new leader against the context of Germany’s visible lack of leadership since the exit of former Chancellor Merkel from the national political scene. It’s that trend, and not his innuendo of saving Ukraine from a “Russian invasion”, that should be paid attention to.
Source: One World