Macron Sits Down With Putin in an Effort to Cool Tensions


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Putin and Macron met on February 7

On February 7, 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tensions with Russia remain high, as Russian troops mass on the border with Ukraine. In his meeting, Macron aimed to bolster a diplomatic line between Russia and the West, as troops on both sides seem to prepare for war.

Macron’s visit was meant as a last-ditch attempt to cool off tensions and ward off what could be a devastating invasion of Ukraine, with the majority of troops needed to launch a Russian invasion already nearby the border. Macron urged Putin to de-escalate and consider more peaceful alternatives, though it is unclear if the Russian leader will listen given that his administration shot down the value of the meeting just before Macron arrived, a sign of deflated enthusiasm on the part of the Russians for the meeting. However, Macron made clear that he wanted to send a message of regional peace and solidarity with Ukraine. It seems that Macron is supported in these endeavors by many of his top allies, including American President Joe Biden, who called Macron the day before he departed to Russia and reaffirmed his support for de-escalation as well. Additionally, Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz struck similar tones together at a bilateral meeting in Washington on February 7, emphasizing their collective support for Ukraine and de-escalation. In recent days, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have also conducted similar talks, signaling that, though the times may look dire, a path for diplomacy may still be alive.

The stakes of such diplomacy efforts are enormously high, as new reports suggest that tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians could die if an invasion were to launch. The Kremlin could also install a new Ukrainian leader more favorable to them, establishing a key ally in a buffer nation, similar to the efforts of the Soviet Union to do the same in the mid-twentieth century. Additionally, such an invasion could upend the global political status quo in perhaps the largest way since the repercussions of the fall of the Soviet Union around three decades ago. As for the consequences of these diplomacy efforts for Macron, he risks embarrassment on both the national and international stages if Putin were to ignore his calls for peace, which could have stinging political results for him when France votes in their presidential election this April.