Ambivalence About Moscow Is a French Tradition

But Macron Has Bet on Holding Russia Close

Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin at a joint news conference in Paris, France, December 2019 Charles Platiau / Reuters

Last August, while preparing for the G-7 summit in Biarritz, French President Emmanuel Macron opened the doors of his summer residence at Fort Brégançon to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Armed with a bouquet of flowers, the Russian ruler praised the residence’s superb view of the Mediterranean and his host’s equally superb tan. In return, the French leader praised the cultural role in France of Russian artists such as Ivan Turgenev and Igor Stravinsky. These artists served as a reminder, Macron announced, that Russia is très profondément European.

Macron’s declaration was not improvised. Not only did it throw important light on recent French diplomatic activity but it also reflected an older source of light—namely, le siècle des Lumières, or the Enlightenment. It was fitting that a président philosophepace the title of a recent Macron biography—reaffirmed Russia’s ties

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