France Invites Russia to D-Day Anniversary Events and Allies Are Naturally Upset

France has decided that Western allies shouldn’t let a little old thing like a war in Europe prevent the 80th-anniversary party for the D-Day landings from including the Russians.

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Russians were not involved in the D-Day landings. In fact, Russia helped start World War II when its alliance with Nazi Germany gave Hitler a free hand in Western Europe to attack Poland.

All water under the bridge, right? We were “allies” then even when Russian troops raped their way across Germany on the road to Berlin and afterward.

So leaving Russia out of the 80th anniversary commemoration of D-Day would have been bad form. And for French diplomacy, “form” always trumps the real world.

Officials from the U.S., the United Kingdom, and two other NATO allies expressed their chagrin at the invite. 

Protocol issues, the symbolism of inviting Russians, and questions about what sort of “diplomatic engagement” would be required were the kinds of queries being asked by the Allies.

“We would defer to the government of France, which organizes the commemoration at Normandy,” a White House official said. “But perhaps this will remind the Russians that they actually fought real Nazis once, not imaginary ones in Ukraine.”

Touché.

Politico:

The organizer of the D-Day commemorations, Mission Libération, which is headed by France’s former ambassador to Washington Philippe Etienne, said last month that Russian representatives would be invited though Putin was persona non grata at the ceremony.

“Contrary to the Kremlin, France does not do political revisionism of history,” Mission Libération said in a statement. “Historically, France has always invited countries whose troops had landed in Normandy. An invitation has in the past been extended to the Russian federation,” the statement said.

Mission Libération did not confirm which Russian officials had been included as invited guests, nor whether Russia had accepted the invitation. An official for Mission Libération contacted by POLITICO said organizers were currently more “focused on preparations for the commemorations” than on the details of the guest list.

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That’s French for “mind your own damn business.”

“Contrary to the Kremlin, France does not do political revisionism of history,” Mission Libération said in a statement. “Historically, France has always invited countries whose troops had landed in Normandy. An invitation has in the past been extended to the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Ahem. Begging your pardon monsieur, but no Russian troops “landed in Normandy” on D-Day or any day thereafter. That’s an absurd falsehood. If you had invited the Russians to the recent 79th commemoration of the end of World War II on May 9, that would have been, at least, defensible.No one denies Russia’s major role in defeating Nazi Germany. But leave them out of D-Day commemorations.

When the war in Ukraine began, there was no Western leader more hawkish than Emanuel Macron. He even suggested early on in the war that NATO troops be deployed to Ukraine.

In recent months, Macron has changed his tune.

But in recent months, there are signs Paris has also sought to engage with Moscow. Last week, France’s ambassador to Russia Pierre Lévy raised eyebrows when he attended Putin’s fifth presidential inauguration amid a boycott by most Western countries.

Such actions were “a concern,” said a British minister. “We’ve got to focus on making sure [allied nations] are not only saying the right things but doing the right things when it comes to Ukraine,” said the minister, who was also granted anonymity.

Russian athletes will also be allowed to compete in the Paris Olympic Games under a neutral flag.

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If Biden, Sunak, and the rest of the NATO leaders felt strongly about it, they could send lower-ranking dignitaries to the ceremony. That would embarrass Macron and express solidarity with the Ukrainian people. 

But it’s not likely this will be a hill they want to die on with Macron. He’s already indicated he’s not going to be left out of ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine and that might be a reason for his invite to Moscow.

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