Macron suggests Covid-link to Ukraine conflict

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Russia’s foreign policy may be influenced by its president’s “post-Covid-19 isolation,” the French leader believes

Russian foreign policy regarding Ukraine is dictated by the whims of President Vladimir Putin rather than rational thinking, his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, has claimed.

Macron speculated about Putin’s mindset and the reasons he ordered Russian troops to enter Ukraine in late February, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday.

“I have no rational explanation. I think this is a series of resentment, this is a strategy of hegemony in the region, and I would say this is a post-Covid-19 consequence, isolation,” he said.

The French leader argued that when Putin “decided to launch his war on 21 February, I think he made the first mistake, a huge one. And he decided to put Russia in a situation indeed to be the new imperial country and to launch a colonial war.”

On February 21, Putin signed orders recognizing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as sovereign states. Moscow pledged troops to defend the two Donbass republics, and called on Kiev to withdraw its forces from the territory they claimed as their own, which the Ukrainian government refused to do. Russia launched its military campaign against Kiev on the 24th.

The hostilities followed decades of Russian complaints over NATO expansion in Europe, which the US and its allies pushed forward with in spite of their promises to not do so, made to the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Moscow made a last-ditch attempt at resolving the conflict with NATO last year, when it demanded written guarantees that the expansion will cease. The US-led military bloc refused, claiming that any nation, including Ukraine, has the right to seek membership in NATO.

In the CNN interview, Macron claimed that “now it’s clear for everybody that the leader who decided to go to war, the leader who decided to escalate, is President Putin.”

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Tapper asked about the positions of countries such as China, which acknowledge Moscow’s rationale for countering NATO expansion, while refusing to join the US-led effort to arm Ukraine and punish Russia with economic sanctions. Macron declined to condemn them.

“I think we have to avoid lecturing people and saying we are on the good side of history. I think, if we have a lot of respect, we try to understand where they stand, what they do believe in, and what their feelings are, we can convince them,” he said.

The French president defended his record of diplomatic contact with Putin, stating that they produced some positive outcomes. 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 being obsolete, arguing that there is no better alternative.

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