The uncomfortable truths revealed by Emmanuel Macronís meeting with Vladimir Putin

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS ó French President Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Kremlin, before flying to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. What does it say about Parisí and Europeís position toward Moscow? Nothing that establishment Washington would find acceptable, frankly. And thatís a major dilemma for Macron who purports to strive for diplomatic independence while getting frequently caught up in anti-Russian rhetoric.

On the surface, the meeting serves as a convenient opportunity for Macron to burnish his image domestically as a world leader ahead of Franceís presidential election in April, and for which the incumbent still hasnít declared his candidacy. Who could pass up the opportunity for a photo op showing oneself going mano a mano diplomatically with the global leader constantly painted as a Bond villain by Washington and its allies, particularly when it gives Macron an advantage over his domestic political opponents who canít benefit from the same imagery?

Personally, Macron has everything to gain in meeting with Putin. Despite the perennial hype about some future potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, the appetite for conflict with Russia in Ukraine itself and in most of Europe is simply not there. Macron knows this. So, the high stakes in the Ukrainian conflict are mostly just an optical illusion ginned up by the same Washington establishment hacks who benefit from promoting the idea of a persistent threat of war. Naturally, that threat would necessitate endless spending to the benefit of the national security apparatus and their think-tank activist enablers.

So, the French taxpayer is picking up the bill for Macronís Moscow jaunt, enabling his party to save its war chest for the second round of presidential voting or subsequent legislative elections, while Macron gets to play concerned peacemaker for a non-war. Thatís certainly the tip of the iceberg ó at least from here in Paris.

But thereís a bit more to it. Macron isnít just the president of the French Republic heís also the president of the six-month rotating Council of the European Union. And Washington sending troops into Eastern European countries under the pretext of conflict prevention is precisely the kind of undermining of European sovereignty that caused former French President and World War II-era General Charles de Gaulle, a figure for whom Macron has repeatedly claimed admiration, to kick out U.S. troops and pull France out of NATO.

What some Americans fail to understand is that France and French people generally donít have a negative view of Russia. Many French and Western Europeans see Russia as an important business and trade partner and consider the country to be primarily culturally and geographically European, despite its proximity to (and relationship with) Asia.

Washington has to understand that Western Europeans (notably the nations that dominate the EU) donít have any interest in fighting with Russia in a military sense, and they certainly have no real appetite for defending the interests of a country (Ukraine) whose own president doesnít seem interested in conflict with Russia either. President Zelensky, who appears to be mostly reacting to the usual internal corruption-driven pressure placed on him by oligarchs in bed with western economic and political interests, seemingly couldnít give a toss about the average Ukrainian citizen.

And while Eastern European nations still frequently evoke their history with the former Soviet Union, theyíre also the Achilles heel of European autonomy. Siding with their fellow European Union member states to reap the benefits of that association isnít always compatible with supporting Washington-driven NATO. Because although these nations may technically be members of both, the EUís best interests and those of Washington are not aligned when it comes to Moscow in this post-Cold War era.

Macron himself has exemplified this schizophrenic mindset of wanting to be a partner of Russia while nonetheless falling in line to do Washingtonís bidding against it. The French president has long promoted the notion of an EU independent from both global powers, but in practice his actions and positions have suggested that he cares more about what Washington and special interests that underpin the transatlantic alliance think. Often, the result of this has been anti-Russian rhetoric that betrays Macronís purported wishes of true French and European independence, as well as a pragmatic, agnostic approach that places equal value in relationships with both the U.S. and Russia.

Macron is pretending to dissipate a conflict that Europe really isnít interested in fighting. And Americans really donít want to, either. So, perhaps itís time for our leaders to stop the constant warmongering that serves only a few greedy elites who thrive on endless war, chaos, and conflict.