Mateusz Morawiecki, Petr Fiala and Janez Jansa. Boris Johnson. Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen. Justin Trudeau. Anthony Blinken or Antonio Guterres. The list of Western leaders who surrendered under the bombs in Ukraine, to which we must add Jill Biden and Angelina Jolie, is growing every week. A name is missing. That of Emmanuel Macron, yet very active on the diplomatic level since the beginning of the Russian invasion. An anomaly about to be corrected, if we are to believe Etienne de Poncins.

“He is eagerly awaited in kyiv, he has been invited several times […] I believe he planned to go. The exact date has not yet been set,” the French ambassador to Ukraine told France 2 on Wednesday. How to explain that the French president, so quick to pick up the phone to talk to Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, has not yet taken the Falcon of the Republic to appear in the streets? from Kyiv ?

The need for added value

For Bertrand Badie, political scientist specializing in international relations interviewed by 20 minutes, the decision of such a move takes into account three factors. First, “the essentially symbolic nature of this trip”, which would have “no concrete effect”. Clearly, Emmanuel Macron will not come to kyiv with 50 tanks in his luggage and his presence would have “a demonstration effect rather than a diplomatic construction”. “These visits are useless, it does not even support the morale of Ukrainians when you see their daily life”, launches the professor emeritus at Science po.

Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky when they met on February 8.
Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky when they met on February 8. – SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP

“The trip to kyiv is becoming an obligatory formula which does not have much interest”, agrees Jean-Louis Bourlanges, MoDem deputy and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. It will therefore be necessary to “know what is the added value”, both for Ukraine and for the French president, of the trip before scheduling it, explains the parliamentarian to 20 minutes.

Spare Putin and the voters?

However, the second element of the reflection, Emmanuel Macron wants to play a real role in the diplomatic solution. “There is a kind of Macronian habitus which consists in putting oneself forward, when there is a crisis, to present oneself as a solution”, smiles Bertrand Badie. As a result, the head of state wants to stand out from the others but also not take the risk of “annoying Vladimir Putin”. A hypothesis that would weigh too heavily in the balance? Not according to Jean-Louis Bourlanges, for whom there is “no fear of displaying in situ solidarity with the Ukrainians”.

The French president, however, has faced a busy schedule since the start of the Russian invasion, especially with the presidential election. “A visit during the campaign would have been interpreted as an internal political maneuver, it looked like he was instrumentalizing the war,” said the deputy. Conversely, the opportunity was almost too good for Bertrand Badie. If Emmanuel Macron had put “an electoral charge” on this trip, “he would have rather gone there”, he affirms, evoking the potentially positive image of the “young president who goes under grapeshot”.

The President and his band

But the more time passes, the more Emmanuel Macron takes another risk: that of being the only one among the Western allies not to go, and therefore of losing influence, or even finding himself isolated. “The prospect of being the last is heavy for him”, further believes Bertrand Badie, then detailing his third element of reflection. The visit could therefore not be long, it remains to define the form and the right moment. “It must be done while France chairs the European Union”, insists Jean-Louis Bourlanges, who imagines the head of state taking “Charles Michel, Ursula von der Leyen, even member states like Italy “.

So before the end of June, with the imperative “that it be clear around”, so as not to go there just after Joe Biden for example. Bertrand Badie leans, him, for another staging: “Where there have been dramas, there is a necessary passage”, he affirms, imagining “other Boutcha”. The president could also “appear in Odessa, because it seems to be the next battle”, or “pass through Moldova”.

For now, the mystery remains. The president has not made his decision, and even for the deputies of the majority, “Emmanuel Macron’s ways are impenetrable”, smiles Jean-Louis Bourlanges.


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