Crisis in Ukraine: How are the presidential candidates positioning themselves?

POLITICS – Usually, international relations are only discussed on the sidelines of a presidential election, during which the various contenders for the Elysée prefer to talk about the daily lives of voters. However, and while the crisis in Ukraine has a direct impact on the wallets of the French, due to the pressure that the threat of Russian intervention on the price of gasoline poses, interest in the issue has exceeded the insiders of the diplomatic game.

It must be said that the hypothesis of an open war at the gates of Europe, which moreover involves powers equipped with nuclear weapons, has indeed something to attract attention. This is why the various candidates for the presidential election were questioned on the subject.

And more than a right/left divide, it is above all the position to adopt vis-à-vis the United States and Russia that divides the political class. To sum up, the electoral offer is broadly split into two distinct groups: supporters of a Western approach who plead for a position of firmness vis-à-vis Vladimir Putin, and those who lean towards a rapprochement with the Kremlin and a EU and US distancing. The HuffPost takes stock of the positions of the various candidates.

Pécresse and his “pan-European security council”

On the right, Valérie Pécresse intends to obtain compromises from Russia and Ukraine. During his visit to C In the air, February 6, candidate LR believes that it is necessary to “speak firmly” in Moscow, and with “candor” in Kiev. Which amounts to considering that Ukraine is in its right to express the will to join NATO (which is a casus belli for Moscow), while explaining to the Ukrainians that this membership is “not a priority”. A crest line that is quite difficult to hold as these two considerations seem antagonistic.

Supporter of a “de-escalation”, here is how she sees things: “We cannot prevent a sovereign country from joining a military alliance. So it’s not an impediment but it’s to say that it won’t be a priority and so we calm down, first act. Second act, we propose. I believe that Vladimir Putin should be offered (…) a real new conference on security in Europe”. Russian-speaking, Valérie Pécresse hopes to eventually arrive at a “pan-European security council” which she sees as a “first step towards a form of strategic empowerment of the EU” vis-à-vis the United States.

Jadot, Hidalgo and Taubira for a European approach

Hostile to Vladimir Putin, the environmental candidate Yannick Jadot fully assumes the confrontation with the head of the Kremlin. “It is the dictator Vladimir Putin who threatens democracy in Ukraine”, he underlined on franceinfo, believing that Emmanuel Macron should have gone to Kiev before his trip to Moscow in order “to show our unity and our support. to Ukraine”.

For Yannick Jadot, the answer must be European. He recommends “maintaining the threats” hanging over Moscow in order to “sanction the corrupt Russian oligarchy”. The MEP also wants the European Union to oppose the “famous gas pipeline, North Stream 2, which must bypass Ukraine and which weakens Ukraine in its geopolitical situation”. Concerning the possible accessions to NATO and the EU brandished by Russia like a red rag, Yannick Jadot considers on the other hand that Ukraine should stay away from it.

This is, with a few nuances, what socialist Anne Hidalgo thinks, who also pleads for a common response from EU member countries. “When you see the situation in Ukraine, you wonder where Europe is. While the United States is focused on China, and in the face of the aggressiveness of certain leaders, Europe must once again become or become a force of influence and speak with one voice by showing itself to be more firm on the ‘against authoritarian leaders’, she estimated in mid-January on France Inter. Without going into details, Christiane Taubira also expressed the wish to see the EU speak out loudly, and with one voice, on the issue. And especially “upstream” of the crisis.

Mélenchon, Zemmour and Le Pen conciliatory towards Putin

Unsurprisingly given their previous statements and their geopolitical views, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Éric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen are much less critical of Vladimir Poutine, judged by those concerned as a victim of “imperialism ” American. “The Russians are mobilizing on their borders? Who wouldn’t do the same with such a neighbour, a country linked to a power that continually threatens them? We continue the old methods of the Cold War. However, the anti-Russian policy is not in our interest, it is dangerous and absurd”, estimated in The world of January 18, the leader of rebellious France, before adding: “the key word is de-escalation”.

The deputy of Bouches-du-Rhône also believes that NATO is responsible for the situation, which is why he intends to leave this military alliance once in power. A position close to that of the communist Fabien Roussel, who proposes to stop “being aligned behind the American war policy”.

Marine Le Pen judges that Russia is in its right. Accusing Emmanuel Macron of being “the little telegrapher of NATO and the European Union”, the RN candidate is in favor of a rapprochement with Moscow. This is why she had refused Madrid to sign with her European nationalist allies the passage condemning Russian military actions on the Ukrainian border. “Whether we like it or not, Ukraine belongs to the Russian sphere of influence”, she explained recently to the chain of the Polish media. Rzeczpospolita, in total alignment with Vladimir Putin’s comments on the subject.

Éric Zemmour sings the same Russophile refrain. Considering that Vladimir Putin’s claims are “completely legitimate”, the candidate for Reconquest! considers that Ukraine has always been “a region of empire, be it Russian or Austrian”. The former journalist does not hide his admiration for the head of the Kremlin, “a patriot” who would only be driven by the defense of the interests of his people. “Me, if I were the president, I would say: ‘There are no more sanctions vis-à-vis Russia’, he declared on France 5. Unsurprisingly, he believes that the Ukraine is unfounded in asking to join NATO.

And Emmanuel Macron?

It is difficult to know what Emmanuel Macron’s precise vision is on the subject, since he is not speaking as a candidate, but as President of the Republic, also occupying the seat of President of the Council of the Union. European Union since January 1. A much more delicate position than those of the candidates, giving more room to the realpolitik than to ideology, since it gives it a voice and a responsibility in this latent conflict. However, the theoretical orientations of the Head of State in this area are known.

Supporter of a European response and attached to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron advocates for a solution that could both respond to Russian concerns, without antagonizing Kiev. All of this while acting as intermediaries with the United States. With, why not, a “Finlandization of Ukraine”, which would amount to granting it a status of neutrality. Be that as it may, Emmanuel Macron is not one of those who want to end NATO or lift the pressure on Russia.

At the end of January, he said he was ready to take part in the Alliance’s military deployment in Romania, as part of a reassurance mission in the face of the Russian threat. In addition, the president is for a European defense that would eventually allow EU members to acquire strategic autonomy vis-à-vis the United States.

See also on The HuffPost: “Great replacement”, at her meeting, Valérie Pécresse is not her first time