Macron meets Putin in Moscow amid Ukraine tensions
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Although the incumbent has yet to officially declare his intentions to run for the job, Mr Macron has stated that he must resolve the ongoing tension prior to putting his name in the hat. With many in France fuming at the President’s tenure to date, from the remnants of the yellow-vest movement to the state pensioners who feel short-changed, success in bringing an end to the standoff would be a welcome distraction for Mr Macron.
According to veteran journalist and columnist Roger Cohen, Mr Macron’s role in the talks places him in a good position for the upcoming elections.
Writing in the New York Times, Mr Cohen argued that, even before he visited Moscow and Kiev, the phone calls made to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “placed the French leader precisely where he seeks to be ahead of an April presidential election: at the fulcrum of crisis diplomacy on Europe’s future.”
Adding to the notion that this is a multi-edged mission for Mr Macron, the writer added: “Mr Macron is walking a fine line.
“He wants to show that Europe has a core role to play in defusing the crisis, demonstrate his own European leadership to his voters, ensure that Germany and several sceptical European states back his ambitious strategic vision, and avoid giving the United States cause to doubt his commitment to NATO.”
Mr Cohen ended by saying: “If the president can be seen to have played a central role in achieving that, he will bolster his position in the election, where he currently leads in polls.”
But Mr Macron is undeclared and already leading in the polls.
Mr Macron has openly stated he has grand ambitions for France and the European Union.
With France now enjoying its role as the rotating Presidency of the EU, many see Mr Macron as using the opportunity to fill the void left behind following the retirement of the former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Columnist Paul Taylor suggested Mr Macron may not be the first choice across the EU to achieve such a feat.
He said, writing in Politico: “French President Emmanuel Macron, a Duracell Bunny of energy and activism on the European stage, would love to fill the leadership void.
“But he arouses too much suspicion and hostility in Central and Northern Europe, due to his outreach to Moscow and drives for greater trade protection.
“Besides, France doesn’t carry Germany’s economic clout, and Macron faces his own uncertain election next April.”
Closer to home, Mr Macron’s main political rival, Marine Le Pen has slammed the President for his stance towards Moscow.
Speaking to the BBC, Ms Le Pen said France should not look into starting a new Cold War with Russia as Mr Macron seeks to re-write the security pact between the EU and Moscow.
She said: “There are no friends in the field of geopolitics, there are allies.
“So we have allies, and I think it’s a mistake to wage such a cold war against Russian President Vladimir Putin, pushing him closer to China and creating something like a new empire that is not in the interests of European countries.”
Ms Le Pen went on to say US President Joe Biden’s weak political position is partly to blame for the current tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine.
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When US leaders feel weak, according to Ms Le Pen, they generally start hunting for an adversary or, in the absence of one and then they create one.
This was reflected in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, when Professor Scott Lucas from the University of Birmingham said Mr Biden would only gain support if the US started a Hot War with Russia, and that his main priorities should lie at home to work on his popularity.
Some may say this also applies to Mr Macron, yet, Mr Putin stated that the French President was the only liaison he recognised to broker talks between Russia, Ukraine, the EU, NATO and the US.
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With Russia already promising no further escalation of tension would happen on the border of Ukraine, and Kiev stating that they do not feel Russia will invade their territory, it may just seem that Mr Macron has pulled off a diplomatic victory.
Whether this will be appreciated back in France will be seen on April 10 as the ballot boxes fill with votes.
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