Alliance Aukus: la France mis du temps à digérer l’affront

The surprise termination of the delivery contract of twelve French submarines by Australia in 2021 for the benefit of models from a partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom had caused anger in France.

by Philippe Ricard

“A blow on the back”: the announcement of the Aukus partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, on September 15, 2021, had aroused unprecedented quarrel between France and its three Anglo allies -Saxons, then accused of “duplicity”, even “betrayal”. The agreement, negotiated in the greatest secrecy, without warning Paris, had led to the breakdown of a spectacular delivery contract of twelve French conventional submarines, for the benefit of submersibles with nuclear propulsion. And weakened France’s commitment to the vast Indo-Pacific region.

Eighteen months later, the American, British and Australian leaders have taken care to warn their French interlocutors in recent weeks, without revealing the details of the partnership revealed on Monday, March 13, by Joe Biden and the first British ministers, Rishi Sunak, and Australian, Anthony Albanese. “Water has flowed under the bridges,” recognizes a French diplomatic source, while the invasion of Ukraine by Russia forced Western allies to tighten ranks.

Basically, French officials continue to regret the Australian choice, considering that the late the contract signed by Naval Group would have, among other things, allowed, due to a wide effort of local subcontracting, to develop “sovereignty “Of their Australian partner, now dependent on American nuclear know-how. In Paris, we are discreetly concerned about the risk of proliferation.

Do not lock ourselves up in a logic of blocks

And we remain cautious in the face of an alliance above all intended to militarily stem China. Emmanuel Macron, who has to go to Beijing on April 6 and 7 meeting President Xi Jinping, is anxious not to shut himself up in a logic of blocks, while tensions between China and the United States continues to win In intensity over the months.

However, Emmanuel Macron did not wait for the war in Ukraine to overcome his anger with regard to the United States. A first step had been taken during a tête-à-tête with Joe Biden in Rome, on the sidelines of a G20 summit in late October 2021, during which the American president had also started to educate his European allies at the subject of Russian invasion projects. Reconciliation was initiated later with Australia, on the occasion of the coming to power, in May 2022, of the new Labor government, a fall of the conservative cabinet led by Scott Morrison, the man of the rupture without notice of the French contract, treated until his defeat as a “liar” in Paris.

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