France's Exit From NATO Would Have Been ‘Greatest Gift for Russia’, Top Diplomat Says
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.
“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.
13 December 2021, 07:26 GMT
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.