Our Fellow, Juliette Faure, has recently published an analysis with Russia Matters. We are happy to share the text with our network:
In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron put forward the idea of engaging a strategic dialogue with Russia as a necessary step to create an “architecture of trust and security” on the European continent. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the European Union had adopted a two-track approach of sanctions and dialogue with Russia. According to Macron’s special envoy for strategic dialogue with Russia, Ambassador Pierre Vimont, the French engagement with Moscow was thought of as a way to provide for the lack of concrete implementation of the dialogue component of this approach. With this initiative, Macron aimed to seize leadership in fixing Europe’s critically ailing security architecture. The French president thereby took stock of then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s disregard for transatlantic partnership and put forward France as a balancing power able to stir a broader European strategy for dealing with Russia. Macron’s inclusive move toward Russia stood out as an innovative break from a strict containment policy. In that sense, it arguably challenged the U.S. interest in preserving cohesion among NATO’s allies in their approach toward Russia. However, with U.S. President Joe Biden’s determination to restore the transatlantic relationship, there are prospects for renewed cooperation between the U.S. and France in their attempt to address Europe’s security issues.
Following on the Russo-Georgian war and, earlier, wars in former Yugoslavia, the conflict in Ukraine came as the most significant evidence of the collapse of the European security architecture. In 2019, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty over Russia’s alleged violations and the uncertainty around the extension of the New START Treaty further deteriorated the foundations of Euro-Atlantic security. As stated by Macron, France’s dialogue with Russia was meant to step back from the Russian-American standoff and initiate strategic talks on issues such as the frozen conflicts in Europe, conventional and nuclear arms control, space programs, terrorism and cybersecurity. The announcement of this roadmap had also been encouraged by Volodymyr Zelensky’s victory in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections, which, in Macron’s view, provided a new opportunity to move forward on the implementation of the Minsk agreements to halt war in the Donbass.
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