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What’s Right About France’s Overtures Toward Russia?

French President Emmanuel Macron's new policy of engagement toward Russia carries significant risks – not least because Russia persists in the behaviors that caused its relations with Europe to deteriorate in the first place. But seeking a rapprochement makes more sense than persisting with failed Western efforts at containment.

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron is convinced that now is the right time to reset relations with Russia. He has therefore made it a diplomatic priority to restore a climate of trust between Paris and Moscow. Three compelling reasons underlie this move.

First and foremost, the international strategic context has changed dramatically. China is rising, while the United States, although still the world’s dominant power, is distancing itself from its global responsibilities. And Russia, with an aging, shrinking population and a huge, largely uninhabited landmass, is a natural prey for China’s long-term ambitions.

European leaders should not resign themselves passively to seeing Russia, lacking any other alternative, align with China. Instead, they should try to convince Russians that their future is with Europe, and not as China’s junior partner in a deeply unbalanced relationship. Russia’s destiny lies in the West, not the East.

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