French President Emmanuel Macron’s attendance at a meeting of BRICS leaders would be “inappropriate,” considering his government’s stance against Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said. Paris confirmed this week that Macron is seeking an invitation to the bloc’s summit in South Africa in August.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Ryabkov explained that Russia’s opposition to Macron’s potential appearance was based on France’s efforts to isolate Moscow and its support for NATO’s goal of inflicting a “strategic defeat” on Russia in the Ukraine conflict.
“We are not hiding this position and have informed our South African colleagues about it,” Ryabkov said, as cited by Interfax. “We expect our point of view to be fully taken into account.”
As host of the summit, South Africa would have the right to invite Macron, although it would be important for Pretoria to consult other BRICS members beforehand, Ryabkov suggested.
He noted that the bloc is currently discussing the criteria for future members. The rejection of unilateral economic sanctions as a geopolitical tool is likely to become one such condition, and France would certainly fail to qualify based on that indicator, Ryabkov argued.
Around 20 nations have reportedly formally applied to join BRICS or indicated that they are considering such a move, although France is not among them. The organization, which started as an informal economic club, currently lists Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa as full members.
Macron’s wish to attend the summit in Johannesburg was first reported by French news outlet L’Opinion, and was confirmed on Tuesday by Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna during a visit to South Africa. Her host, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, said inviting Macron would be an “innovation” for BRICS, but noted that a decision had not been made on the matter.