This morning, on the Ukrainian crisis: Russia, this quasi-economic dwarf.
For the past few days, we have been following very carefully the martial messages and the sounds of boots in this region of the world, a region which is moreover ours – who is aware of it? There are only 2,000 km as the crow flies between Paris and Kiev. Vladimir Putin keeps the world spellbound, with troops massed on the Ukrainian border, and with his demands: no NATO enlargement and more Western military deployment in Eastern countries. But the paradox is that the political and military power of Moscow goes hand in hand with an extremely average economic power of Russia. Its gross domestic product is slightly higher than that of Spain but with a population three times larger, which means that per capita it is roughly three times lower. Compared to France, the two countries box even less in the same category: Russian GDP is 43% lower than ours. Russia, which fifteen years ago was the “R” in the acronym for the BRICs, this group of fast-growing emerging countries – Brazil-Russia-India and China – well, Russia is no longer one of them. But of course, Russia’s main wealth is raw materials, oil and gas, and that’s where it holds the European Union, which is 40% dependent on Mr Putin’s gas – it’s even 50% for Germany. So what to conclude? That Russia is a country whose subsoil is very rich, whose inhabitants are not rich at all, except the famous oligarchs. And that regime viscerally needs nationalism and to resonate the nostalgia of its former power to hold on to its authoritarian bases. France has strong ties with Russia. That Emmanuel Macron and Bruno Le Maire, in Bercy, necessarily have in mind when they manage the Ukrainian crisis and the showdown with Putin. One: Paris and Moscow jointly launch into space, from French Guiana, Soyuz rockets on the Kourou site. Two: the Russian nuclear company Rosatom is the first customer of the French Arabelle nuclear turbines, turbines that EDF is in the process of buying from General Electric. Three: the French company Engie is involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which is to supply Europe with Russian gas and which Washington does not want. In short, in a nutshell, there are many cross-interests.