Franco-German engagement with Russia

Notwithstanding the fact that France was a party to the NATO, EU & G7 statements on the Kerch strait developments, President Macron went ahead with a bilateral meeting with President Putin on the margins of the G-20 summit. Equally significant was the fact that in his (public) opening remarks at that meeting, he first mentioned cooperation on Syria, before talking about the situation in Ukraine, which he linked to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. He also said he would discuss his ideas on “the common architecture of security and defence in Europe”, which incensed President Trump in Paris and raises hackles in some parts of Europe as well. On this subject, both President Putin and FM Lavrov have declared that the new approach to a European security architecture, including President Macron’s idea of a European Intervention Initiative, is of great interest to Russia. 

Such “decoupling” of Europe from the US & NATO has been attempted before (with a stronger political momentum) in the 1990s, after the Cold War. It encountered strong pushback from the US and eventually ran aground on political and economic divisions within Europe. President Macron’s ideas may encounter even stronger headwinds in today’s political climate. 

German Chancellor Merkel called President Putin on November 27, after the Kerch Straits incident, in an effort to defuse the crisis. According to the Kremlin, President Putin asked Germany to use its influence to stop Ukraine “from taking further reckless steps”. President Putin subsequently said some measures had been agreed upon to defuse the crisis, though he gave no details. 


November 29, 2018

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About the Author

Ambassador PS Raghavan

Former Ambassador of India to Russia; Convener, National Security Advisory Board

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.

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