'Flat on their face' Macron skewered over previous failures to woo Putin ahead of visit

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The French President is about to embark on a trip to Moscow on Monday to hold face-to-face talks with the Russian supremo. He is hoping to dial down tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and to avert a war between the two Slavonic neighbours. Within the past ten days, Mr Macron has engaged in intense diplomatic exchanges with Mr Putin through numerous telephone conversations.

The trip to Moscow has been coordinated with Washington and Berlin and coms at a time when Moscow appears to be increasing its troop movements towards its borders with Ukraine.

Any hopes that the French President might achieve a significant diplomatic breakthrough were however tempered by a political expert.

Mujtaba Rahman, managing director of the Eurasia Group, pertinently reminded his Twitter followers that all previous attempts to mollify Russia’s strongman had ended in abject failure.

He wrote: “Whether Macron can win anything from Vladimir Putin is another question entirely.

“Previous attempts by Macron to reason with the Russian president have fallen flat on their face.”

Throughout his Presidency, Mr Macron has repeatedly sought to reach out to Mr Putin in an attempt to build bridges between Europe and Russia.

He emphasised the need for close relations with Moscow in his 2017 campaign book “Revolution”, despite Russia’s contested annexation of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent invasion of Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Mr Macron wrote at the time: “It would be a mistake to break ties with this eastern European power [over Crimea] rather than forming a lasting relationship.”

In 2017, the French President hosted his Russian counterpart at a grand ceremony in Versailles.

This first meeting was then followed by another encounter in 2019 at Mr Macron’s official retreat of Brégançon on the Riviera.

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At the ensuing joint press conference, Mr Macron proudly declared that Europe extended from the Atlantic to the Urals by affirming his belief in a “Europe that goes from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”

Despite his past failures to squeeze concessions from Mr Putin, the French President appears confident ahead of his upcoming visit to Moscow, that he can persuade Mr Putin to pull back from the brink of war.

He told the French Journal du Dimanche: “The intensity of the dialogue we have had with Russia and this visit to Moscow are likely to prevent [a military operation] from happening.

“Then we will discuss the terms of de-escalation.”

Sceptics have played down Mr Macron’s chances for success, claiming that the French President is using the crisis to showcase his leadership credentials ahead of his expected re-election bid in April.

It comes as new videos circulating on social media appear to show an intensification of troop and equipment movement on Russian railways.

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Jennifer Griffin, the Fox News national security correspondent, reported that Russia now has 83 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) near Ukraine with another 14 in transit.

Rob Lee, a Defence analyst, noted that meant Moscow has now deployed about half of its ground combat power close to its borders with Ukraine.

He wrote: “That means Russia has 1/2 of its total number of BTGs near Ukraine, which represents about half of Russia’s ground combat power.

“14 more BTGs would bring the total to ~100 as US intel predicted.”

US security officials believe Russia has assembled about 70% of the military capability needed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the coming weeks.



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