French President Emmanuel Macron was keen to display a smiling optimism by answering questions in English to international journalists in Versailles; a few minutes later, he was grave and serious in his address to French journalists, commenting in exactly the opposite terms.
Exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya took to Twitter upon hearing the outcome. She called it a “shame” and a “sham,” adding that “there can’t be any recognition of the ‘referendum’ and its outcomes.”
As the Russia-NATO standoff preoccupied Western leaders in late 2021, the worrying development did not receive the care it merited. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers last Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell at last presented their response.
Over the past couple of days, a deluge of events, press releases, and commentary touching on the Russia-NATO issue has buried news desks. It proved, however, highly revealing of the alliance’s internal cracks.