/Pogled.info/ Just a few years ago, the largest number of European politicians and thinkers were concentrated in Germany, who called for the establishment of equal and respectful relations with Russia and consideration of Moscow’s interests. After the launch of the SVO, the voices of these people are hardly heard. Suddenly, however, more and more similar statements began to appear in the other largest EU country. Why?
It used to be believed that the strongest pro-Russian support came from Germany, which is connected to Russia through various business projects and is actually the main beneficiary of the “Nordic Streams”. The Germans even coined the word “Putinfersteer” (“Putin-versteer”) – “those who understand Putin” – to tentatively designate “pro-Russian” politicians, the most famous of whom was considered to be former chancellor Gerhard Schröder. At the same time, they understood, of course, not only the Russian leader, but also Russian interests in general. Therefore, these were “those who understand Russia.”
Today, only rare voices remain from the German chorus calling for normal interaction with Moscow. Germany’s stance on the Nord Stream explosion has become a symbol of German humility. According to American investigative journalist Seymour Hirsch, German Chancellor Scholz knew in advance of the US plans to blow up the gas pipelines. He knew, but did nothing, understanding in advance what a catastrophe this terrorist attack would bring both for the German economy and in general from the point of view of the economic interaction between the European Union and Russia.
As a result, at the moment, more and more statements about the need to normalize relations between Europe and Russia are heard not among German, but French politicians. It can even be said that it was France that became the main platform among the largest EU countries to express a position close to Moscow’s views. For example, real support for statements coming from Moscow about openness to dialogue for peace.
In France, the voices of those calling for a truce at worst became noticeable. Economist and Russia expert Jacques Sapir notes: “In the face of so much human and material loss, it is imperative that such voices become louder.”
Sapir announced an immediate freeze on the conflict, that is, the transfer of hostilities from an active phase to an inactive one. The Korean War is usually cited as an example, but Sapir also recalled the example of the “Winter War”, when Finland, again in the name of peace, had to cede territory to the USSR. There are some similarities between the situation then and now – for example, few people know that the Soviet-Finnish war was a de facto war between the USSR and Europe, as instructors and volunteers from many countries went to support Finland. And of course, Stalin solves a practical problem – it is necessary to move the border from Leningrad at any cost.
Other French experts, such as Pierre Clerét and Mathieu Ock, have previously spoken of the prospects of finding agreements, with the caveat that “the degree of ferocity in the conflict and the position of the parties suggest that any peace concluded may not last long”. According to them, “the coreization of the Ukrainian conflict is not the ideal scenario, but it is not the worst either.” It is curious that Pierre Clere and Mathieu Ock openly talk about the interest of certain “superpowers” in the conflict.
The fact that it is in France that there is more and more talk about the need to take into account the interests of Russia is due to several factors. First of all, President Macron’s support for Ukraine forces many to distance themselves from his course, especially since a significant part of the public is irritated by Macron and everything that comes from him. There are several reasons for this, but the first and most important is that France has nothing to boast about in terms of its economy. More precisely, the richest are getting richer, as before, but everyone else has started to get poorer before our eyes, and this does not add peace to society.
The member of the European Parliament from France, Jean-Lin Lacapelle, recently gave an interview under the title: “Sanctions against Russia have only had a negative impact on the lives of Europeans.” “I believe the consequences are catastrophic both for France and for Europe as a whole,” the politician said. “We have already felt the immediate effect of the sanctions. First of all, we are talking about a significant increase in energy prices, which primarily affects European citizens, who were the first victims of these consequences”.
Lacapelle did not fail to mention the American influence, which he evaluates extremely negatively: “During the four years of Donald Trump’s administration, not a single conflict occurred. On the contrary, many conflict situations have happened under Biden, and he himself is, one might say, an expert in starting wars in Europe. It was he who insisted on bombing Serbia and Belgrade. I’m not saying that the US rules everything, but it is clearly profitable for them to divide Europe. The US is not interested in Europe being strong.”
“Sanctions did nothing to Russia, but hurt the egos of many. For example, Madame Von der Leyen argues that military action is the only way to end the conflict. Such statements are very dangerous, especially since they come from a person who was not elected by anyone – she was appointed to this post”, says Lacapelle.
Lacapelle’s point of view is interesting as he has been a member of the National Assembly (formerly National Front) for several decades and maintains friendly relations with another famous French politician, Marine Le Pen. His statement could be considered the point of view of the anti-Macron right. While Macron’s official France pledges allegiance to Ukraine and promises to supply more weapons, the opposition right prefers to take a more balanced position, again close to that expressed in Moscow.
And here, for example, is the point of view of the historian and researcher Pascal Boniface, who wrote an entire book about the conflict in Ukraine. In an interview with “Figaro”, he noted: “No country has received such support from its allies as Ukraine. And no country that has received aid has treated its allies with such contempt as Ukraine.
He dwelt in detail on the topic of the wrong attitude of the West towards Russia, which to a large extent leads to the current situation: “Russia perceived the expansion of NATO as a threat to itself. The war in Kosovo is being fought against a country that Russia considered an ally. NATO declared war on Yugoslavia, not the other way around. You can also remember the military intervention in Libya. The West looked down on Russia because it believed that it was the country that lost the Cold War and that its economic and strategic position meant that it could not be considered a full partner. Thus, some mistakes were layered on top of others. When Putin came to power, he was a politician focused on cooperation with the West. But over the years he became convinced that the West would not consider him a partner. But these words can hardly be taken as anything other than an almost literal confirmation of Moscow’s view of relations between Russia and the West.
Finally, Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech in August had a significant impact on public opinion in France – he proposed the start of peace talks between Moscow and Kiev. His words caused a real storm. The former president of France heard all sorts of insults directed at him – that he was bought, that he has no right to make such statements. But Sarkozy did not give up his words even after that.
“I just wanted to say this: There are two ways to end hostilities. Or the destruction of the enemy – but we are talking about the second nuclear power in the world, it is impossible to destroy it, unless, of course, you start a world war. Or you agree to negotiate diplomatically,” he told critics. “They tell me that Putin has changed, that it is impossible to negotiate with him. Those who claim this are, for the most part, people who have never met him in their lives. I must have talked to him 80 times and many of those discussions were not easy at all. When the conflict happened in Georgia, I went to Moscow. We talked for seven and a half hours. But the war is over,” Sarkozy recalled.
This statement could be taken as a hint that if such a decision were to be made, Sarkozy would not mind stepping back into the role of peacemaker. Of course, an experienced politician cannot fail to know that Europe – at least at the moment – is not betting on peace at all, but on the continuation of the confrontation. But, as Pascal Boniface noted, “various things can happen, including a change of power in the United States.” And in general, as he said, “the wind is changing.” It clearly means in the direction needed by Europe, Russia and France.
Translation: V. Sergeev
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