March 23, 2023

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War in Ukraine | French ambassador to Canada says “no more contact” with Putin

(OTTAWA) The snapshot has captured the imagination around the world: French President Emmanuel Macron sits across from Vladimir Putin, the two men separated by a long table several meters apart, in an opulent room at the Kremlin Palace, on February 7, 2022. .

The first wanted to convince the second not to invade Ukraine, and we know the result. The leader of the Élysée maintained a relationship with the Kremlin master, becoming one of the few Western leaders to do so.

“What are the results? Very thin. But at least we check the “we tried” box. It could have been a scandal of history,” argues Michel Mireillet, the French ambassador to Canada, in an interview.

“Some wanted to imply a certain tolerance. No, not even that! Some protesters wanted to impose an image of a solitary ride, but no, that’s not it,” continues the man who dropped off his suitcases at the Art Deco-style French embassy on rue Sussex last September.

President Macron “tried to engage him and realized that it didn’t work”, which means that “today, it has nothing to do with bringing him to a Cartesian level,” insists the head of mission from Paris to Ottawa.

Photo archive Reuters

Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron in Moscow on February 7, 2022

The French leader made the announcement in his speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 17.

The time, he said, was “clearly not for conversation.”

“So, if I say so, to be surprised by the peace, we are ready to intensify today, because the coming weeks and months are decisive and we are ready for a long conflict,” underlined Emmanuel Macron.

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Fighter: “The New Level”

Unlike other countries, including Canada, France has not supplied heavy tanks — the French army has Leclercs — to Ukraine. On the other hand, by announcing the deployment of light tanks in January, Paris paved the way for the Leopard 2 tanks, the ambassador said.

“This awareness caused, in particular, the Germans, with the support of Poland, to release the Panther 2. In the same way, the Americans announced the delivery of their Abrams tanks”, he explains.

“This perspective is not before us,” although eventually a peace agreement is needed. France has chosen to set aside any “conservatism” regarding military support in Kiev, Mr. Miraillet explains.

Photo by Ludovic Marin, Agence France-Presse Archives

French Mirage 2000 fighter jet

It is not excluded that France is arming the Ukrainians with Mirage 2000 fighter jets. “This is a new position, the president has not yet decided to let the ambassador go, but he is not closed,” he said. »

Controlling an aircraft like this doesn’t happen overnight, although he notes: “Put a pilot on the Mirage, it means extra training, and it’s the same thing for the F-16 or other models. »

Macron in Beijing in April

Intensification of exports of dangerous military equipment does not mean France is abandoning diplomatic efforts. The French president signaled this last Saturday by announcing he would take pilgrim staff back to Beijing to discuss with the Chinese government.

“I think it is very good that China is involved in peace efforts. “I will go to China myself in early April,” the French leader said. Asked by reporters if he trusted the Chinese regime, he pleaded that the “great powers” could not be ignored.

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“So behind it is the determination not to supply any weapons to the aggressor Russia, and to help us get Russia to withdraw its troops,” warned Emmanuel Macron, while Washington fears Beijing for its part. Consider arming Moscow.

Details of where the talks between Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping will take place, and the shape or size of the table they will sit at, have yet to be revealed. But Ambassador Michel Miraillet has already promised this: “The peace process, if there is one, will one day be done on Ukrainian terms”.