Moscow’s foreign policy is influenced by its president’s “post-Covid-19 isolation”, says the French leader
Russian foreign policy regarding Ukraine is dictated by the whims of President Vladimir Putin rather than rational thought, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron has claimed.
Macron speculated on Putin’s state of mind and his reasons for ordering Russian troops into Ukraine in late February, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday.
“I don’t have a rational explanation. I think it’s a series of resentments, it’s a strategy of hegemony in the region, and I would say it’s a post-Covid-19 consequence, the ‘isolation’, he said.
The French leader argued that when Putin “decided to launch his war on February 21, I think he made the first mistake, a huge one. And he decided to put Russia in a position to be the new imperial country and to launch a colonial war.
On February 21, Putin signed decrees recognizing the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as sovereign states. Moscow committed troops to defend the two Donbass republics and called on kyiv to withdraw its forces from territory they claimed as their own, which the Ukrainian government refused to do. Russia launched its military campaign against kyiv on the 24th.
The hostilities followed decades of Russian complaints about NATO expansion in Europe, which the United States and its allies continued despite promises not to, made to the Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Moscow made a last ditch attempt to resolve the dispute with NATO last year, when it demanded written guarantees that the expansion would stop. The US-led military bloc refused, saying any nation, including Ukraine, had the right to apply for NATO membership.
In the CNN interview, Macron claimed that “Now it is clear to everyone that the leader who decided to go to war, the leader who decided to escalate, is President Putin.”
Tapper asked about the positions of countries like China, which recognize Moscow’s justification for countering NATO expansion, while refusing to join the US-led effort to arm the Ukraine and punish Russia with economic sanctions. Macron refused to condemn them.
“I think we have to avoid lecturing people and saying we’re on the right side of history. I think if we have a lot of respect, we try to understand where they stand, what they believe in and what are their feelings, we can convince them”, he said.
The French president has defended his record of diplomatic contacts with Putin, saying they have produced positive results. He also said that criticizing Germany for being dependent for decades on Russian energy would be unfair.
Macron dismissed Tapper’s criticism of the UN as obsolete, arguing there is no better alternative.