NATO to Blame for Russia-West Tensions Over Ukraine, French Opposition Leader Says
11:39 GMT 12.02.2022 (Updated: 12:00 GMT 12.02.2022)
© Sputnik / Kristina AfanasyevaJean-Luc Melenchon during a rally in Lille, France during last year's presidential election.
© Sputnik / Kristina Afanasyeva/
France will head to the polls for presidential elections in April. At least two top-tier candidates have now expressed apprehensions about the Western alliance’s behaviour amid escalating tensions with Russia.
NATO, not Russia, is responsible for the current tensions in Europe, Jean-Luc Melenchon, presidential candidate and founder of the democratic socialist La France Insoumise party has said.
Speaking at a panel discussion on France 2 TV and asked directly about who he believes is the aggressor amid the president crisis in Ukraine, Russia or NATO, Melenchon replied “NATO, without a doubt.”
“The United States of America has decided to annex Ukraine to NATO, and Russia feels humiliated, threatened, aggressed,” the politician said. “In the crisis situation that has developed, the United States cannot decide who to consider its main adversary – China or Russia…So what do they do? They want Ukraine to be pulled into NATO. We the French have no interest [in such plans], we don’t care about that,” he said.
The National Assembly MP emphasised that throughout the crisis, Russia has been accused of aggression for the act of moving its troops around on its own territory, while NATO has placed missiles and missile defence systems in Poland, something Moscow has every right to consider a genuine threat.
“I am not here to defend Russia. We are living in a time of a balance of power. France’s position, if I am to preside over it, is non-alignment,” Melenchon said. “France’s interest is not to be aligned and therefore not to repeat like parrots the propaganda of the United States of America,” he added.
The candidate promised that if he were elected president, he would sign on to guarantees not to deploy NATO forces in Ukraine.
France will head to the polls for presidential elections on 10 April, with a second round to be held on 24 April between the top two candidates if no one manages to secure over 50 percent of the vote in the first round.
Melenchon’s support has hovered in the 9-10 percent range in the latest polling, behind incumbent president Emmanuel Macron (24-25 percent), conservative populist National Rally president Marine Le Pen (17-18 percent), Les Republicans candidate Valerie Pecresse (15-16 percent) and Reconquete leader Eric Zemmour (14-15 percent), respectively.
Like Melenchon, Le Pen has long expressed anti-NATO views. Last week, she announced that she would pull out of the alliance’s command structure if elected to avoid being “dragged into other people’s conflicts.” She has also promised to replace the European Union with a European alliance of nations, to work to raise France’s profile at the United Nations Security Council.
8 February 2022, 12:23 GMT
President Macron travelled to Moscow on Monday to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin and discuss the security situation in Europe. Putin told his French counterpart that the US and NATO had ignored Russia’s security concerns, and pointed out that the Western alliance considers Russia as its main threat and adversary in strategy documents.
Macron declared that his meeting with the Russian president had helped to avoid escalation over Ukraine and that France had “strengthened its credibility.”