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The film, called “A President, Europe and War”, was released last week and exposes the French President’s failed approach to diplomacy with Russia. In a never-seen account inside the Elysee Palace, Mr Macron was filmed during all his phone calls with the Russian President before and after Putin’s attack on Ukraine in February 24.
The documentary opens with a scene in which Emmanuel Macron is on the phone to Putin on February 20, just four days before Russia’s attack.
The French leader has just proposed a meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva, confident the Russian leader has just agreed to the unprecedented summit.
“It’s a proposal that merits to be taken into account,” Putin can be heard saying.
“But if you want us to be aligned on the way it should be formulated, I suggest we ask our advisers to call each other as soon as possible … but understand that I agree in principle.”
Mr Macron responded: “Very well, so you confirm that you agree in principle, and I suggest that our teams .. try to work on a joint statement after this call?”
To which Putin replied: “To be perfectly frank with you, I wanted to go ice hockey, because right now I’m at the gym. But before starting my workout, I promise I will call my advisers. … Je vous remercie, Monsieur le President.”
The meeting with the US President never happened, of course. The very following day, Putin recognised two separatist provinces in eastern Ukraine.
And four days later, Russia invaded Ukraine.
Commenting on the clip, former ambassador and adviser at the Montaigne Institute Michel Duclos told Politico: “Knowing Russia, this shows me how Putin enjoyed leading a great western leader up the garden path.
“You see glimpses of him almost mocking flippancy.”
The director of the documentary, Guy Lagache, was able to film the French President’s calls to foreign leaders and the Elysee’s advisers commenting on the war as it unfolded.
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The film exposes how Mr Macron runs France’s foreign diplomacy by relying on just a small number of advisers.
Even his Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian only makes an appearance once in the film and without even contributing to the conversation.
Mr Duclos added: “Foreign policy has never been more individualised than today.
“The film confirms that this model of foreign policy, which is completely centralized at the Elysée, has reached its limits.”
Mr Macron is also filmed admitting his diplomatic efforts to convince Putin have utterly failed.
He said: “We talked, we spent a lot of time trying to stop [the war], to involve others.
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“I thought we could find a path with Vladimir Putin based on trust and intellectual conversation.”
“What Macron does not seem to see is the cost for him and for France, in terms of credibility with the allies and with his European partners,” added Mr Duclos.
He continued: “Also what’s the damage for Macron in his relationship with Putin? He looks like a rebuffed applicant, that’s not the way to be taken seriously.”
Mr Macron was also lambasted in the French press this week.
Anonymous critics branded him “dazed. Absent and barely lucid”.
A French minister told Le Monde: “He’s struggling to define what the new adventure will be.
“His indecision has become proverbial.”
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