French President Emmanuel Macron rejected the “mistaken morality” that would prevent Paris from maintaining communications with Moscow, in a speech to his diplomats at the Elysee Palace on Thursday. Talking to Russia shouldn’t be left to just Turkey, he argued, while reiterating his support for Ukraine and telling the French to prepare for “a long war.”
“The job of a diplomat is to talk to everybody and particularly to the people we disagree with,” Macron said, during his annual foreign policy address to French diplomats gathered in Paris. “Who wants Turkey to be the only world power that is talking to Russia?”
“France will continue to talk to Russia,” he added, “in coordination with our allies.”
“We must not give in to any form of mistaken morality that would seek to weaken us,” the French president said, commenting on criticism from some quarters of the EU regarding his phone calls to Moscow.
Articulating France’s position on the conflict in Ukraine, Macron said France is “not participating in the war, we do not want to,” but also that “we cannot let Russia militarily win the war” by gaining territory, as that would be “the defeat of the international order and our values.”
Instead, the EU and the US need to work towards “either a victory for Ukraine or a negotiated peace reached with conditions that are acceptable to Ukraine,” he said, before acknowledging that the West “must prepare for a long war.”
The EU must not align itself with “the most war-mongering types, which would run the risk of expanding the conflict and cutting off communications completely,” Macron warned, without specifying whom he was referring to. Neither should it let its easternmost members shoulder the support for Ukraine alone, he added – even though Poland and the Baltic states have been the most vocal critics of his diplomacy with the Kremlin.
“European unity is key, and I dare say the division of Europe is one of Russia’s war aims,” he argued.
Macron also urged the ambassadors to be more aggressive in pushing back against “misinformation, fake news and propaganda” on social media and use the tools at their disposal to “break the Russian, Chinese or Turkish narratives” and tell the truth about French actions when France is “wrongly attacked” online.