Why Macron is the only person Putin speaks to

Dan Wootton says Macron has been ‘humiliated’ by Putin

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Ukraine, currently enveloped in smoke from countless Russian bombs, has fought off invaders for 15 days. The second week of the conflict has already seen a maternity hospital decimated and humanitarian corridors allegedly targeted by advancing troops. World leaders have scrambled to resolve the situation, but few have spoken with Putin more than Mr Macron.

Why is Emmanuel Macron the only person Putin speaks to?

Mr Macron has kept a dialogue open with Putin during the invasion, serving as a de facto western spokesperson.

While other nations have cut off the Russian aggressor, he has spoken with him 11 times over the last month, most recently on March 6.

Their communication is a mix of approaches, with Putin initiating some calls and Mr Macron initiating others, and there are several potential reasons for their closeness.

Straightforward diplomacy

One of the most likely reasons for his enhanced contact with Putin is that Mr Macron hopes to end the conflict.

He has a history of fostering close ties with those the EU could welcome as allies, as proven during Donald Trump’s presidency.

During his first term, the President was frequently embroiled in spats with European leaders, leading him to grow more distant from NATO.

Mr Macron maintained relations with the US during this time, keeping the Trump administration close to prevent the conflict from accelerating.

One former adviser told Politico that Mr Macron had an “obsession” with Mr Trump and Putin, adding he felt they should feel “considered”.

French election 2022

Another possible answer for the enhanced relationship between Paris and Moscow is the impending French election.

French residents will vote in two rounds next month, from April 10 to 24, to decide whether Mr Macron wins a second term.

At present, he is leading his nearest rival, Marine Le Pen, by approximately 14 points with a projected second-round win of 57 percent to her 43 percent.

In recent days, the dialogue with Putin has become notably publicised, as the Elysee released several pictures of the French President with his head in his hands following the March 6 call.

These pictures show Mr Macron hard at work and will likely persuade some French voters that this makes him worthy of a second term.

Kremlin talking points

While Mr Macron may have Europe, and even Russia’s best interests in mind, Putin has shown a penchant for disrupting the western narrative.

Throughout the invasion, Russian officials have attempted to play down or outright deny they initiated the conflict, with Putin’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stating today that Russia “did not attack Ukraine”.

When speaking to the French President, Putin can repeat Russian propaganda via a western source, as Mr Macron inevitably releases briefs about the contents of their call.

Last week, Elysee officials said the Russian premier had insisted the war was “going according to plan” and repeated thoroughly discredited accusations that a Neo-nazi organisation had assumed control of Ukraine’s government.

Although the French staffers only relayed the call’s contents, it meant they broadcast Kremlin talking points through western media outlets.

Chinese influence

Sanctions have crippled the Russian economy, cutting off the country from the west and leaving it increasingly reliant on its eastern neighbours such as China.

Mr Macron has previously said he sees Russia as a “profoundly European nation”, and another former aide told Politico he wanted to offer Putin an “alternative”.

While China hasn’t openly supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it hasn’t offered unequivocal condemnation either.

The closer Russia draws to its neighbour, the more likely it could spawn an eastern alliance.

The French President may want to follow what other European nations have done and prevent China from gathering even more influence in the region by holding Putin close.

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