France’s Position in the Ukrainian Crisis

by Yaprak Akkaya

As one of the EU’s major superpowers, France has been vocal since the beginning of the contflict between Russia and Ukraine. Until now, Macron has sought to be a negotiator and to encourage communication for innocent people. On the other hand, there is also a response to this crisis at the Union level. France also became a part of these responses and sanctions. This blog will assess what France has done since the beginning of the crisis.

According to the website of France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France’s position is defined as “united with Ukraine in this humanitarian emergency”. This is written under the same title that France released €100 million for humanitarian supplies. The aim is to deliver these items to refugees or to Ukraine via an airbridge that is set up through Poland. At that point, we see cooperation between EU Member States. However, helping Ukraine should not be the subject of any dispute in  a union that aims to deliver peace. This blog now continues with the sanctions that are taken by France. We can analyse the role of France from two different perspectives: as a Member of the European Union and as a Member of NATO.

While tension escalated, France visited Kyiv and Moscow and the message after these visits was that “any new attack on Ukrainian sovereignty would lead to massive, costly sanctions for Russia.”. After the military action of Russia, like other EU Member States France also announced economic measures against Russia with the aim of isolating Russia from the international financial system. In terms of sanctions, France was in cooperation with the EU, but did something different. Macron tried to communicate many times with Russia and Ukraine. He sought to be a negotiator and has become Europe’s last channel of communication with Putin. This role is quite suitable for a member of the EU because it has no military power, and the Union is more like an economic power.  In 2014 during the seizure of Crimea, the response came from France – German alliance worked but today Germany has no clear position, and this leaves France alone. In today’s crisis, France supported the EU’s restrictive measures in response to the crisis in Ukraine.These measures include mostly economic sanctions and diplomatic measures such as visa facilitation. On the other hand, France decided to deploy troops to Romania when the crisis first manifested. Before the Ukrainian crisis, the relationship between the US and France was bad however, France’s action in Ukraine has bolstered its status because this showed that it is maximally inclined and successfully associated amongst EU member states within the trans-Atlantic relationship.

Within France there have been preparations for an election race but at the beginning of 2022 all attention is now on Ukraine. Before the Ukraine crisis, France was criticised for “hijacking the European Union” but in this period it gained support due to its management. Also, when considering Macron’s five year presidency, it is characterized by diplomatic activism, but focusing on Africa, the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East.

Even though this crisis came suddenly it is possible to talk about French leadership with its partner, the UK. While the UK is not part of the EU, and Germany was criticised as “was late to respond”, it is not wrong to define France as the leader in this crisis. In January, France committed to deploying its troops to Romania for strengthening the NATO line, at the beginning of February visited Moscow and Kyiv to negotiate. After the crisis broke out France supported Ukraine with sanctions against Russia and supported Ukrainian refugees with humanitarian aid. France seems like a channel to communicate with Russia because since the beginning of the crisis Macron took this role and contacted Putin and Zelensky. In that role, we can see both NATO and the EU’s effect in France and its foreign policy decisions. Also, it is known that France has always been in the spotlight in other parts of the world with its diplomatic activism.

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