Watching France’s election, albeit from behind geographic and linguistic barriers, I have to wonder what the outcome would have been if the Ukraine war had never happened. It’s absurd to think that this would even be a major election issue in France, which isn’t exactly sharing a border with Russia, yet Macron had few arguments to make against Le Pen except for, “Russia, Russia, Russia”.
What would his core argument have been if Putin hadn’t invaded Ukraine? If anyone gets the credit for saving Macron, it would have to be Putin.
For Americans, the question is to what extent does this offer a preview of coming attractions?
While it’s probably unlikely that there will be an intense conflict in the region for years, Russian nationalists keep talking about where they would like to go after Ukraine. (Considering their failure to digest Ukraine, that doesn’t seem like a great plan, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.)
While the war has inflicted plenty of economic pain on Europe, Macron’s victory shows that it also confers economic benefits. Likewise, Biden has been able to spin his economic disaster, at least to some, as Putin’s.
Neither Putin, who has seen Russia take too much of a military beating to leave with anything short of some sort of substantial gains, nor Biden or the Euros have much of an incentive to end the conflict. As long as the war continues, the various leaders can keep their countries in crisis mode.
That’s another reason why this war needs to end, preferably sooner rather than later.