The President left the meeting with Putin saying he had guarantees, the Kremlin denied it. The Germans ask themselves: “Where is Scholz?”
French President Emmanuel Macron, who will have to fight for his re-election in April, left a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow this Monday, bragging that he had obtained “concrete security guarantees” from Vladimir Putin. , as well as its “desire to maintain the stability and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. The next day, while Macron continued his journey, heading towards Kyiv, the Kremlin publicly denied it, leaving the negotiations as it was. And weakening the French President’s attempts to assert himself as the face of Europe, after Angela Merkel’s departure from the scene.
“This is wrong at its core. Moscow and Paris cannot make any agreements. It is simply impossible,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by the Guardian. “France is an important country in the EU, France is a member of NATO, but it is not the leader there,” he explained. “So what agreements can we talk about?”
Even so, Macron’s statements did not fail to create speculation, with the French President implying that he had a different position than the intransigent position of NATO and Washington. If they ensure that Putin’s main demand – that NATO gives guarantees that it will never accept Ukraine as a member state – is non-negotiable, Macron will have suggested the “Finlandization” of Ukraine as a solution, in conversation with French journalists during his flight.
In practice, Finland declared itself as a neutral country, appeasing its Russian neighbors, choosing not to be part of NATO in a referendum in 1947, accepting to have limits on the size and capacity of its armed forces. Given the escalation of anti-Russian sentiment in Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and with the country in a state of civil war with Russian separatists in the east, it seems like a difficult proposition to implement without resolving that conflict first.
Still, the proposals that Macron presented behind closed doors were described as “realistic” by Putin himself. Bearing in mind that, if Ukraine joined NATO and tried to retake Crimea, the alliance would be dragged into a European conflict of unprecedented proportions since the Second World War.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is scheduled to travel to Kyiv on February 14 and to Moscow the following day, insisted on going through the White House first.
While Macron, a convinced advocate that Europe must have its own approach to tensions in Ukraine, on the sidelines of negotiations between Moscow and Washington, Scholz, alongside Joe Biden, insisted on stressing the importance of NATO being an “absolutely united”, this Tuesday.
The chancellor assured that he will not “take different steps” from the US, despite the criticism that his Executive has been targeted for, for refusing to send weapons to Ukraine. In Germany, the hashtag #WoIstScholz (“where is Scholz”) has even become popular, according to DW, referring to the inactive role played by Scholz in the face of this crisis.
In a way, the chancellor is the opposite of the French President or Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who, like Macron, sees his position at risk, not due to elections but due to successive scandals, having tried to assert itself as a protagonist in the Ukrainian crisis, only through a tougher stance towards Russia.
“It is very tempting for every Western leader to say, ‘I found the solution! I am the savior of Europe!’” Orysia Lutsevych, an analyst at Chatham House, told the Guardian. “This is particularly true with Macron.”
Source: With Agencies