Wannabe Napoleon: Macron Humiliates Himself

Against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron went through all five stages of grief. Starting with denial and ending with acceptance through depression, Macron appears to have decided to go through this vicious circle once again. His latest calls and remarks are cheap attempts at gaining a reputation as the main defender of Ukraine on the European continent.

In 2022, Macron saw France’s role as the mediator in this conflict. According to himself, he spent over 100 hours in the first six months since the start of the Russian operation in Ukraine negotiating with President Putin. Even though these negotiations were allegedly undertaken at the request of Ukraine President Zelensky, Macron’s willingness to speak directly to the Russian President angered his Western partners, with Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states being especially furious.

At that time, Macron called for “security guarantees” for Russia and insisted that Russia “should not be humiliated” in Ukraine. Additionally, he gained a reputation of being a vocal skeptic of Ukraine’s efforts to join the EU, saying that this process will take “in all likelihood decades”.

Despite all this, Macron’s efforts proved futile, as he gradually became “at home among strangers, but stranger at home”. Moscow quickly understood that Macron would not be a viable mediator in Ukraine, as trust in his attempts at negotiations waned after he made confidential conversations with President Putin public in his documentary “A President, Europe and the War”. At the same time, the French President grew increasingly distant from his Western counterparts, who took hawkish stances against Russia and fell into the narrative constructed by the United States.

Wannabe Napoleon
Emmanuel Macron float in the Rosenmontag carnival procession, Mainz, Germany, 2018

Thus, two years since the war, a frustrated Macron takes a different stance – one of a fearless warrior that missed his mark at the start of the conflict, but is ready to fight now. This warmongering seems ridiculous, as France’s actual support to Ukraine has been fairly limited. According to the Ukraine Support Tracker made by the Kiel Institute for World Economy, Macron contributed only €1.8 billion to Ukraine in the form of military, financial and humanitarian aid. This constitutes roughly 0.68% of France’s GDP. Everyone in Europe understands that these figures are laughable, as only Romania, Portugal, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, and Ireland contributed less to the Ukrainian cause.

Macron calls other nations not to be “cowardly” in their fight against Russia, but it is the French President himself who has been cowardly all this time. He could have saved France’s reputation as a “voice of reason” in Europe and continue calling for negotiations, but instead he has decided to take an apologetic stance for his insufficient aid to Ukraine. Macron tries to present the country as a reliable partner that is not “cowardly” like the rest of Europe or the United States, but the truth is that his words are not viewed seriously by any world leader.

The French President has recently pledged to support Ukraine “until victory” and suggested that there is “no limit” for such support, saying that sending Western troops to Ukraine “should not be ruled out”. After these remarks, he faced severe backlash from his partners from Europe, NATO officials, and the French public. Macron doubled down on his radical agenda in the recent meeting with opposition parties, saying that French personnel will be deployed in Ukraine in case of a Russian offensive in Odessa or Kyiv.

After the events Macron’s own Minister of Defense said that no French troops will be deployed in Ukraine, which shows that there is completely no unanimity in France’s stance on the issue. This was followed by Macron’s ridiculous interview, in which he reduced the issue of European security to a clumsy anecdote, saying: “Not ruling something out does not mean doing it. You are now standing in front of me, and not having lunch at your table. But you do not exclude the possibility that at some point you will sit down to dine at your table, because you need to eat”.

This, in turn, reduces Macron’s image to that of a European “class clown”, who does not commit any real aid to the common cause, but shouts about everyone being “cowardly”. Anyway, a hearing has been scheduled for next week in the French National Assembly, whereby parliamentarians will try to elaborate a comprehensive Ukraine strategy for France. This hearing will only be advisory, which means Macron will be able go against it and keep pushing for his radical agenda.

It is yet unclear what Macron plans to do with these hawkish statements, but what is for certain is that the French people do not want to take part in the conflict in Ukraine and want the country’s president to focus on issues of agriculture and manufacturing rather than play foreign policy games with no concrete plan in sight.

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