Macron meets with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the palace of Versailles. During the meeting, Macron warned Putin that France would immediately respond were chemical weapons used in Syria. Macron called this a “red line,” one that would merit a French response regardless of the offending party. He also expressed hope that the Russian President would cooperate with France in efforts against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
This meeting comes after a great deal of tension during the recent French election, an election that many speculate had Russian involvement. Allegations suggest that the Russian President may have covertly provided support to Marine Le Pen, a member of the far-right party Front National.
The French and Russian Presidents spoke together over lunch for two hours in the palace of Versailles. The French President expressed his desire that the two countries strengthen their ties, cooperating together to find a solution to the Syrian conflict. He said that such cooperation must involve a discussion among all interested parties within a “diplomatic and political framework.”
On the other hand, President Macron stated that France would exhibit “no weakness” if any party crosses the line by using chemical weapons. Such use, he stated, would warrant an “immediate response.”
French intelligence agencies recently learned that the Assad regime deployed sarin gas in an attack against the town of Khan Sheikhun, which lead to the United States retaliating by launching missiles against Assad. This was the first official attack launched by the U.S. against Assad’s forces.
Macron expressed that he strongly prefers that the Syrian peace process happen through democratic means, a transition that would “preserve the Syrian state.” He spoke of the country as a “failed state,” claiming such states are a threat to Western democracies insofar as such states, in the view of the French President, “enable terrorist groups to advance.” The French President called for the “eradication of terrorist groups,” naming ISIS in particular, as well as expressing his hope that France and Russia have closer ties in the future.
Previously, the Russian President had sparked a major controversy by inviting Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right nationalist party, to visit the Kremlin only a month before the French began their first round of election. Macron blamed Russia for employing a “hybrid strategy of combining military intimidation and an information war.”
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