Why French Politicians & Media Don't Buy Into US-UK-NATO's Coverage of Ukrainian Crisis

© Sputnik / Go to the photo bankA residential building in Kirovsk, Lugansk Region, damaged by shelling
A residential building in Kirovsk, Lugansk Region, damaged by shelling - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.02.2022
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France's oldest television broadcaster TF1 has reported on the Ukrainian government forces' shelling in Donbass. According to Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov, France is one of a few European countries who are speaking out about Kiev's hostile military actions against the people of Eastern Ukraine.
"Millions of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the two self-proclaimed Donbass people's republics live under sporadic firing and shelling by the Ukrainian army against separatist forces," wrote French economist Hervé Hannoun and his German counterpart Peter Dittus in their 11 February op-ed for the French weekly Marianne. "The concentration of Russian troops on Ukraine's borders is obviously aimed at dissuading Kiev from attempting to regain direct control of the enclaves of Donetsk and Lugansk by force."
Dismissing the Western media narrative of Russia's "invasion" of Ukraine as a sheer "disinformation campaign," the economists noted that NATO is striving to present "Putin's moral obligation to defend these Russian-speaking populations – which Ukraine wants to progressively deprive of the right to speak their language – as a prelude to the total annexation of Ukraine by Russia."
© Sputnik / Сергей Аверин / Go to the photo bankDonbass militiaman holds up piece of shell fired on his comrades' position by Kiev forces in Western Donetsk. 15 February 2022.
Donbass militiaman holds up piece of shell fired on his comrades' position by Kiev forces in Western Donetsk. 15 February 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.02.2022
Donbass militiaman holds up piece of shell fired on his comrades' position by Kiev forces in Western Donetsk. 15 February 2022.
Remarkably, Hannoun and his German counterpart are no peace activists but people deeply rooted in the European establishment, according to Karel Vereycken, a political analyst, journalist, and vice president of Solidarite & Progres, a political party founded by Jacques Cheminade.
The French politician notes that Dittus and Hannoun are both former officials of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS); Hannoun also served at the Banque de France and used to be the chief of cabinet of French Prime Minister Pierre Beregovoy.
In their op-ed Hannoun and Dittus called upon the French to leave NATO, arguing that it is "an absolute emergency." Paris made a grave mistake when it became a member of the integrated military command of NATO in 2009, under French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the economists. They warned that the current Ukrainian crisis is fraught with serious risks for France which remains a member of the expansionist US-led military alliance.

"Paris must avoid the military spiral into which the United States and NATO want to drag it," the economists stress, calling for "OTANexit" (NATOexit). Putting an end to France's alignment with NATO should become a leitmotif of the April presidential elections in France, according to them.

© Sputnik / Sergei Averin / Go to the photo bankEscalation on the contact line in Donbass, 6 March 2021
Escalation on the contact line in Donbass, 6 March 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.02.2022
Escalation on the contact line in Donbass, 6 March 2021

The French Calling for Security Dialogue With Moscow

Most French political forces – with the exception of the Socialist Party and a faction of the Greens – have supported the necessity of holding a security dialogue with Moscow while casting doubt on the US-UK-NATO's Russia strategy.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a French presidential candidate, who presided over the La France Insoumise group in the National Assembly from 2017 to 2021, told TF1 on 6 February that Ukraine should remain neutral. He stressed that the NATO eastward expansion had been “felt as a threat by Russia” and advocated France's exit from the transatlantic alliance.
On the same day, Communist Party (PCF) candidate Fabien Roussel urged the French to "stop being aligned behind the war policy of the US," while addressing a gathering in Marseille. He said that France should "extend a firm hand, but an open hand" to Russia and "take the path of disarmament and peace."
Right-wing presidential candidate Eric Zemmour told France Inter on 7 February that Vladimir Putin’s proposal of Ukraine's non-admission to NATO is "completely legitimate," adding that "the Americans have done a lot to provoke Putin." He called the Russian president a patriot who "legitimately defends" the interests of his country.
Valérie Pécresse, the presidential candidate of the centre-right Les Républicains, repeatedly said that Russia's security concerns are justified and proposed "a new conference on security in Europe that could give rise to a pan-European security council from the Atlantic to the Urals."

"The strongest argument comes from Georges Kuzmanovic, the former foreign affairs spokesman of Melenchon, from whom he took distance, and now a sovereigntist campaigning for a national unity programme based on the patriotic and social values of 'De Gaulle and Jaures,'" says Vereycken. "Kuzmanovic, backed by Jacques Cheminade, openly calls for leaving the integrated command immediately, and reconstructing a sovereign arms industry that would allow France to leave NATO once again."

© REUTERS / Thibault CamusFILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin watches French President Emmanuel Macron arriving for a press conference after their talks, in Moscow, Russia, February 7, 2022
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin watches French President Emmanuel Macron arriving for a press conference after their talks, in Moscow, Russia, February 7, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.02.2022
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin watches French President Emmanuel Macron arriving for a press conference after their talks, in Moscow, Russia, February 7, 2022

Ex-French Foreign Minister: NATO Did Vow Not to Expand to East

On 18 February, German magazine Der Spiegel reported about a "remarkable" archival document apparently confirming that Western European and American leaders vowed not to expand NATO eastward, which comes in contradiction to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg's claims that no promises of that kind had ever been made.
"That's just not true, no such promise has ever been made, and there was never such a backroom deal," Stoltengerg told Der Spiegel on 19 January 2022.
According to the declassified document, during a 1990 meeting between the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), together with France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States it was stated that the transatlantic alliance's eastward expansion, either formal or informal, had to be limited. In the wake of the disclosure the NATO chief told German broadcaster ARD on 20 February that the newly-discovered document does not actually confirm that the organisation promised not to expand to the east.
However, Der Spiegel wasn't the first media that raised the issue of NATO's broken promise this month. Actually, it was French journalist Olivier Berruyer of Les Crises, who made an interview with former French Minister of Foreign Affairs Roland Dumas on 13 February. Dumas, the French establishment's heavyweight, confirmed that France along with other Western nations indeed promised Russia that NATO would not expand eastward.

"Former Foreign Minister and Mitterrand’s adviser Roland Dumas' interview with Berruyer is a very important political bombshell, since he personally participated at all the diplomatic negotiations about the future of Europe following 1989," says Vereycken. "Already during a rendezvous with Jacques Cheminade some years ago, he fully confirmed that the West had vocally committed itself not to expand NATO to Russian borders."

France's position with regard to Russia and Ukraine contradicts that of the US, NATO and the UK's stance and plans, according to Vereycken. French President Emmanuel Macron appears to be the only current EU leader who takes Russia's security concerns seriously and does not want to dance to the US tune, according to the politician.
"The Gaullist political matrix remains an integral part of the 'political DNA' of the French people," says Vereycken. "Therefore it is in France's interest to talk freely to all countries with which it can engage in a useful relationship for making the world a better place for all."
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