War in Ukraine: the “diplomatic” tone rises between Zelensky and Macron

War in Ukraine: the “diplomatic” tone rises between Zelensky and Macron

How long ago the time, celebrated by the presidency in a video, this Thursday, where Emmanuel Macron warmly thanked his friend “Volodymyr” during a telephone conversation between the Elysee and the Ukrainian leader. Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been communicating in all directions for several weeks, while the Russian army is bogged down in its offensive against his country, criticizes Emmanuel Macron this Friday for wanting to spare Vladimir Putin and is reserved about his project for a “European political community “.

“We must not look for a way out for Russia, and Macron is doing it in vain”, he regretted in an interview with the Italian channel RAI 1, broadcast on Friday on his Telegram channel. “I know that he wanted to obtain results in the mediation between Russia and Ukraine, but he did not have any”, he asserted, in reference to the multiple exchanges of the French president with his Russian counterpart. and himself just before the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine but also since. The French president insisted for his part, Monday in Strasbourg, on the need to “never give in to temptation or humiliation or the spirit of revenge”. In a way, the tone rises between Paris and kyiv even if the objective remains the same, to stop the war.

The newly reelected French president was referring to the humiliation of the Germans at the end of the First World War, which led straight to Nazism and the cataclysm of the Second World War, according to the French presidency. But these remarks may also have been perceived as a veiled warning to the United States, which massively helps Ukraine militarily and whose Minister of Defense, Llyod Austin, wished “to see Russia weakened” forever in the back from a trip to kyiv. “Putin is a dictator. He doesn’t need save face in front of anyone,” former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul replied on Friday.

“Macron does not need to make diplomatic concessions to Russia now”

For President Zelensky, “Macron does not need to make diplomatic concessions (to Russia) now”. The Élysée defends itself from any lone horseman. The Head of State “has never discussed anything with Vladimir Putin without the agreement of President Zelensky”, insists the French presidency which does not want these “carabistouilles” to turn into confrontation. “It is up to Ukraine alone to define the conditions for negotiations with Russia,” Emmanuel Macron also reiterated as proof in his speech on the future of Europe in Strasbourg.

Since his outstretched hand to Vladimir Putin in 2019 – he then pleaded in favor of a rapprochement between the EU and Russia – Emmanuel Macron remains suspicious of too much indulgence towards Moscow in the eyes of Eastern Europeans even s he has always defended “a demanding dialogue”.

Still on the offensive on Europe, Emmanuel Macron proposed last Monday to create a “European political community” to allow Ukraine to join the European project without waiting for full and complete membership of the EU, which will take “decades”. This “political community”, intended to welcome countries adhering to the European “base of values”, could offer progressive access to the single market, or even in the long term to the mutual assistance clause of the EU (article 42.7), explains the former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta who worked on the idea.

Ukraine invited to the European table but “without a chair”

Ukraine would thus be at the table of the European Council, like other countries aspiring to the EU – including Georgia and Moldova, theaters of frozen conflicts with Moscow – he notes, stressing that this can ” set up very quickly and informally, like a G20”.

Volodymyr Zelensky and his head of diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba, have since made no secret of their preference for direct membership of the EU, to which Ukraine has been a candidate since March. “It’s like a table where the whole family is gathered, and we invited you, but we didn’t put you in a chair. I think it’s unfair, ”said the Ukrainian president on Wednesday during a videoconference with French students. “It is very important for us to reserve this place (in the EU) for Ukraine”, added the next day his head of diplomacy in Berlin.

Far from being new, the idea is openly inspired by that put forward in 1989 by another French president, François Mitterrand, who had, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, expressed the wish to bring together all the countries of the European continent. within a confederation. “The Europeans of Central and Eastern Europe have kept the worst memories of it because in their eyes Mitterrand had found it to try to prevent them from claiming to enter the Union and NATO”, recalls François Heisbourg of the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS).