Ayoob Kara

How France Seeks to Stand Up to Russia

In recent days, it has been reported that France is doing everything in its power in order to stand up to Russia, including possibly sending in European troops to help Kyiv win the war against Putin in the Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at a news conference that while he and the other 21 European leaders present did not agree on deploying military personnel, the prospect was discussed openly.  “Nothing should be ruled out,” he said. “We will do anything we can to prevent Russia from winning this war.”

Navalry’s untimely death, which many blame on the Kremlin, did not help the rhetoric to die down, with many in the West very angry about it. “For more than a decade the Kremlin persecuted, imprisoned, and tormented Navalny,” said Tirana Hassan, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “He should never have been in prison, in the first place. The Russian authorities bear full responsibility for what has happened to Navalny, starting with his first politically motivated arrest.”  Navalry has been imprisoned since 2021.  He survived a 2020 poisoning attempt, which many blamed the Kremlin for.  He was an outspoken critic of both the Ukraine war and repression within Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron said recently: “We are convinced that the defeat of Russia is indispensable to the security and stability of Europe.”  He described Russia as the “sole aggressor” in the Ukraine conflict.  Therefore, as part of France’s efforts to help defeat Russia, when Armenia pulled out of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), France is taking moves to replace Moscow as the main supporter of the Caucuses country.

Recently, French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu and his Armenian counterpart Suren Papikyan met in Yerevan to highlight deepening defense links between the two countries.  “This cooperation, which has been going on for a year and a half now, is of great importance to Armenia…. We’ve made progress, which means we can look forward to long-term planning in the years ahead,” Papikyan told reporters after the meeting.

Following Armenia’s defeat in the Second Karabakh War and Azerbaijan’s subsequent military offensive, Armenia was greatly disappointed with the Putin government and is actively searching for new bases of support.  France, with its large Armenian community, is one of the few Western countries in the running for this role, as many others are weary of getting close to Armenia due to their close alliance with the mullahs in Tehran and the fact that they still refuse to shut down a major Russian military base within their country.  Also, others are not so quick to forgive them for helping both the Russians and Iranians to evade Western sanctions.

However, the French have pledged military support for Armenia despite this historical baggage, hoping to wean Armenia further away from Putin.  While some in Paris may like this idea, the problem is that it causes harm to other countries in the region who are antagonistic to Armenia yet are loyal to NATO and the West, and have a more consistent track record on that than Armenia does.   Just to give a basic example, Azerbaijan stood beside the West as they fought against the Taliban in Afghanistan.   It is thanks to them and Turkey that American and other NATO forces were successfully able to withdraw from Afghanistan with minimal bloodshed.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan has never done anything to help prop up Putin as it fights against the Ukraine.   Meanwhile, Armenia has done nothing to contribute to NATO’s struggle against radical Islam and their commitment to helping the West on Ukraine appears based on their past track record ludicrous.  But for countries like Azerbaijan who have fought beside NATO in Afghanistan, Macron propping up Armenia as a means of weaning them off Moscow is a major betrayal. For this reason, Macron should think twice about fighting against Putin in this way.

About the Author
Ayoob Kara served as Minister of Communication, Cyber and Satellite under Netanyahu, in addition to serving as the Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, Deputy Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He presently is the President of the Economic Peace Center.
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