On the eve the whole world watched the negotiations between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, watched somehow more closely than one might expect. And this is not surprising, given the background on which the meeting of the leaders of France and Russia unfolded.
On Monday, August 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Paris to discuss the most pressing issues on the international agenda, including the situation in Ukraine. The six-year-long war in the south-east of this country, perhaps, remains the main stumbling block in normalizing relations between Russia and the European Union, and it is not difficult to guess that it was the prospects for fruitful bilateral cooperation that were the keynote of the meeting.
First of all, on the eve of the negotiations, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Hubert Vedrin, as if by chance, made a very loud statement, urging Paris in an interview for Le Figaro to speedy «reset» relations with Moscow. Moreover, he even set very specific deadlines — before the likely re-election of US President Donald Trump, who in this case would seize the initiative. Of course, such statements are not made just like that. They set the correct vector at a certain point in time, and the words of Vedrin are no exception. Simply put, Paris has adjusted sentiment at the expense of a public opinion leader before such important negotiations. This is a very common technology in politics and, it must be understood, in the current case is more than justified.
It is foolish to deny that Europe is going through hard times. After Boris Johnson led the British government, the prospect of a “tough” Brexit became more real than ever. Of course, the UK will first of all feel the “charms” of the absence of a deal with Brussels, but from the laws of physics we know one simple truth: the force of action is equal to the strength of reaction. Unfortunately, in our case, this law also works.
But Brexit is not the only problem of the European Union. The main threat nevertheless comes from across the ocean, where Donald Trump is one step away from unleashing a trade war with Europe. The decision regarding the introduction of duties on cars will just be made by mid-November, so it is possible that London and Washington will shoot at the EU with a doublet. Such a scenario would perfectly demonstrate the unity of Britain with its new best friend — the United States.
German journalist Tilo Kösler recently said: “In Brexit, Trump sees the desired tool that will help him split and politically weaken the European Union.” No wonder the head of the White House so encouraged Britain along the way. What are the promises to conclude a bilateral free trade agreement? The agreement will allow Britain to mitigate the consequences of Brexit. But Europe has to solve its problems on its own. Against this background, the negotiations of Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin took place. What are they remarkable for?
Firstly, despite the position of Europe regarding the Ukrainian crisis, Macron chose not to spoil the dialogue by recalling that Moscow was responsible for the armed conflict in the Donbass. Moreover, he now laid the initiative on Kiev, although until recently it was Russia who was accused of non-compliance with the agreements. Macron also supported Putin’s position regarding the meeting of the Norman four.
“Any meeting in the Norman format should lead to normal results, we must strive to fulfill the agreements already reached,” the Russian president said.
And so, what Macron said to this: «We must hold a summit of the Norman Four, provided that concrete results are achieved, we do not need a meeting for the sake of meeting.»
The French leader made it clear that Paris is serious about resolving the conflict, which means that the new President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will not be able to imitate work in this direction, as his predecessor Petro Poroshenko did. The question for the EU is acute — it needs Moscow as an ally.
The problem is that since 2014, Europe has flaunted only the worst aspects of Russia. The annexation of Crimea, the support of the separatists of Donbass, interference, cyber attacks, the incident in British Salisbury, the society was frightened by evil Russians in the best traditions of Hollywood films of the end of the last century. But now such recklessness has played a cruel joke with the EU, and he will have to whitewash the name of Russia in the international arena. No wonder Macron promised to return her to the Big Seven, and for reinsurance he called for building new relationships on top of the protracted conflict around the Donbass and Crimea, realizing that there was little chance of quickly resolving the situation, and time was running out.