As Ukraine-Russia tensions rise, Macron attempts balancing act – but has he bitten off more than he can chew?

French President Emmanuel Macron with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

French President Emmanuel Macron with Russian President Vladimir Putin.&  | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspTwitter

Key Highlights

  • US President Joe Biden has also done little to calm the escalating rhetoric and, on Monday, reiterated the fallout in the energy market that disruptions to the critical Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline borne out of a potential Russian assault on Ukraine would cause
  • President Putin’s address hinted at some promise in the recent talks, however, he continued to lambast NATO’s open-door policy, stating that it was only beneficial to the US

Emerging from talks that lasted over five hours on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that some progress had been made towards arriving at a resolution, even while the US ordered the deployment of an additional 3,000 US troops to Poland and Romania to defend NATO’s eastern flank. 

Speaking at a joint press conference that followed the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin also indicated a readiness to achieve a compromise. Referring to his French counterpart, Putin noted, “A number of his ideas, proposals…are possible as a basis for further steps.” “We will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone.” 

Both leaders did not provide any further details but the Russian president said they would speak again telephonically following French PM Macron’s meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday. 

Moscow has, reportedly, already amassed some 100,000 troops at the Russia-Ukraine border prompting US lawmakers to push the narrative that an invasion was imminent. Russia has consistently rubbished US assertions of an invasion, labelling them ‘madness and scaremongering.’ Amid rising tensions, it is the French president who has positioned himself as an interlocutor between Washington and Moscow, as he seeks to highlight his diplomatic credentials only months before an election. 

But with Moscow anxious about its waning sphere of influence in the post-Cold War area and Washington refusing to budge on Russia’s demands, PM Macron is acutely aware that a speedy resolution to the crisis is a tall order. The French president faces the daunting challenge of stopping the build-up of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border while allaying Moscow’s anxiety borne out of NATO’s eastward expansion. 

US President Joe Biden has also done little to calm the escalating rhetoric and, on Monday, reiterated the fallout in the energy market that disruptions to the critical Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline borne out of a potential Russian assault on Ukraine would cause. European nations are deeply dependent on Russian energy. Washington has also already previously rejected the bulk of Moscow’s demands, however, has maintained a willingness to engage in discussion over arms control and confidence-building measures.

With Russia already having assembled some 70 per cent of military forces, reportedly, required to launch a full-scale invasion, President Macron acknowledged the urgency and complexity of the matter when he said, “Right now the tension is increasing and the risk of destabilisation is increasing.” “Neither Russia nor the Europeans want chaos or instability when nations have already suffered from the [coronavirus] pandemic. So we need to agree on concrete measures,” he added. 

President Putin’s address hinted at some promise in the recent talks, however, he continued to lambast NATO’s open-door policy, stating that it was only beneficial to the US. He seemed to further inflame political tensions when he said Moscow was prepared to offer political asylum to Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine PM Zelenskiy’s political rival who has been charged with treason in connection with his alleged involvement in financing Russia-backed separatists. 

RELATED NEWS

Share