France's Exit From NATO Would Have Been ‘Greatest Gift for Russia’, Top Diplomat Says

© AP Photo / Marko MummFILE - In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 file photo, France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with French soldiers of the NATO Battle Group at the Tapa military base, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Tallinn, Estonia
FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 file photo, France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with French soldiers of the NATO Battle Group at the Tapa military base, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Tallinn, Estonia - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.01.2022
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Earlier this week, the French left-wing leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said that his country should pull out of NATO to restore its independence in military affairs.
France's Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune has lashed out at calls made by the country’s opposition leader to withdraw France from NATO, claiming that they play into the hands of Russia.
Referring to tensions between Moscow and western countries over Ukraine, he told the French news network Europe1 that he had “heard some suggest that now is an opportunity” to call for France’s exit from the North Atlantic alliance.
Abrams battle tanks from the US Army's 4th Infantry Division 3rd Brigade Combat Team 68th Armor Regiment 1st Battalion on rail cars as they arrive at the Gaiziunai railway station some 110 kms (69 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.01.2022
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“It would be madness at such a time to give the impression of divisions among westerners,” the secretary of state said, arguing that France’s possible withdrawal from NATO would have been “the greatest gift we could give to Russia”.

He also made it clear that France is not bracing itself for a “war" scenario but is preparing "for a difficult time” because of the Ukraine tensions.
Beaune spoke a few days after the 2022 French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is also leader of the left-wing La France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France) political party, said in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde that the country “needs to leave NATO” so as “to restore its military sovereignty”.

“France, which has nuclear deterrent forces, should be independent and not depend on the US for arms production," Melenchon stressed, adding "an anti-Russian policy is not in line with France’s interests”.

The remarks were echoed by French right-wing presidential candidate; Eric Zemmour said last month that he also wants France to leave NATO.
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US Obsessed With Alleged Russian Invasion of Ukraine, Moscow Has No Such Plans, Deputy FM Says
The developments come as western counties persist in alleging that Russia is amassing troops near its border with Ukraine to stage an “invasion”. Moscow refutes the claims, stressing that it does not threaten anybody and has no plans to attack any country. The Kremlin also pointed out that it is in the habit of moving its own troops within its own territory and should not be a matter of concern for anybody else.

According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova, western and Ukrainian officials have now started “even more actively replicating speculations about the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine”.

“We are convinced that the goal of this campaign is to create an information cover for preparing their own large-scale provocations, including those of a military nature, which may have the most tragic consequences for regional and global security”, Zakharova said, adding Russia's suspicions that the West is preparing a provocation in Ukraine are confirmed by the transfer of weapons and instructors to Ukraine by the UK and Canada.
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