Intense offenses and counter-offenses are looming in the near-distant future in Ukraine. Russia is relying on the numbers of its army, counting on its mobilization of reinforcements. On the other hand, Ukraine is relying on its people’s determination to defend its homeland, as well as heavy weaponry from its allies.
While we wait for this crucial part of the war to unravel, leaders throughout the world have been weighing in on the situation. One of the main questions being asked is, “How does this war end?” French President Emmanuel Macron, who hasn’t been silent throughout the war in Ukraine, shared his opinion with a French newspaper.
“I do not think, as some people do, that we must aim for a total defeat of Russia, attacking Russia on its own soil,” Macron told Le Journal du Dimanche in an article published February 18. “Those observers want to, above all else, crush Russia. That has never been the position of France and it will never be our position.”
Macron still supports the defeat of Russia within Ukraine but doesn’t agree with many in the U.N. that want regime change in Moscow. Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, was quick to remind Macron on Sunday, February 19 that France did not start with him, and that the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte still remains in Paris.
A complicated history
What Zakharova was referring to is the French invasion of Russia in 1812 by Napoleon’s I’s Grande Armée. The invasion was carried out with the purpose of forcing the Russian Empire back into the Continental Brigade, which was a large-scale embargo against trade with the British Empire.
While the invasion was not a success, it was only because the Russian Army’s Commander in Chief Mikhail Kutuzov employed attrition warfare. Napoleon’s army had nearly half a million people to Russia’s estimated 200,000 at the start of the invasion. After six weeks of retreating, Napoleon’s army lost nearly half of its men due to starvation and freezing temperatures.
By the time the campaign was given up after six months, nearly a million soldiers and civilians had died. With an estimated 380,000 French soldiers estimated to have died, most of the deceased were Russians, despite their ability to hold off Napoleon’s invasion.
Macron’s conflicting message
Due to France’s history with Russia, Macron might have a different stance than the U.N. on policy. While the French president has voiced support for Ukraine and agrees with sending military aid, he’s also said that regime change isn’t necessary and negotiations would eventually have to be carried out.
President Macron also believes that there is no better alternative to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He even went as far as to tell Le Journal du Dimanche that all other options within the Russian system seem worse to him than Putin.