BTiP 2023, nr 3 – Artykuł 8

Macron in praise of folly? How Macron’s France seeks to gain from power vacuum during the war in Ukraine

Henry Welc | Sciences Po Paris
ORCID 0000-0001-6341-5658

„Bezpieczeństwo. Teoria i Praktyka”, 3/2023, s. 117-129
DOI 10.48269/2451-0718-btip-2023-3-008
PDF: English

Abstract: The Russian invasion has profoundly changed major power relations in which Paris was actively involved to the benefit of the latter, mostly at three levels. The first level, probably the most significant in Macron’s mind, is the European one. Not only did the economic and energy-related repercussions of the conflict put down the eternal German rival, shaken internally due to its historical ties with Moscow and not even sparing the European ‘Mutti,’ but Macron’s France also had the incredible timing of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU to assert a certain French advantage in Europe, and over Germany. The EU seems no longer governed by a duumvirate; the French presidency has unprecedentedly reinforced the French leadership in Brussels, despite various visions of the war between Western and Eastern Europe. Better yet, Macron has finally been able to seize the opportunity and advocate for his dearest project of a ‘European Defence.’
Strategic areas for French-privileged diplomatic spheres remain at the second level. International consequences of the war have transformed the French project. On the one hand, it has been quite disappointing that few have correlated the end of the Barkhane operation in Sahel with the ongoing conflict in Caucasia. On the other hand, it is certainly impossible not to notice the renewed French diplomatic efforts with the Gulf States, clearly shifting in a direction different from the one prior to the war and in favour of a closer rapprochement with country leaders who are not properly aligned with the belligerents in the Ukraine war. Finally, the Ukrainian war has enabled Paris to revive its relations with Washington, not to mention an attempt to stand at the same power level.
Key words: Macron, French diplomacy, power vacuum, neorealism, Ukraine war