Why do the French need Odessa or the logistics of a likely future war in the South Caucasus?

22.03.24 14:08

France is actively "meddling" in the South Caucasus and makes no secret of its intention to use Armenia as a "military bridgehead" in the region, which it is actively arming. There has already been a scandal over Paris supplying armoured vehicles to Yerevan via Georgia. While the very transit through Georgia raises questions and is a clear blow to the country's friendship and good neighbourliness with Turkey and Azerbaijan, it is still unknown how this military cargo got into the Black Sea basin to end up in a Georgian port.


France does not yet have direct access to the Black Sea, and it is unlikely that Turkey would allow military cargo to pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles. According to military analysts, the French armoured vehicles could have been delivered via Romania or Bulgaria. But in the event of a large-scale regional war in the South Caucasus, it would be difficult for the French to establish permanent military logistics via Romania or Bulgaria and the Black Sea. Romania and Bulgaria value their friendly relations with Turkey.


Though any access to the Black Sea is also available to Ukraine, which has lost part of its coastal territory to Russian aggression and occupation, along with Crimea, but still has strategically important ports, notably Odessa. "By a strange coincidence" it was the issue of the presence of the French military in Odessa that recently became the subject of an international information and political scandal.


In other words, if the French military is in Odessa, it will have no problem delivering weapons to the Black Sea basin. However, one question will remain: how to get these weapons through Georgia to Armenia permanently. It was possible once, against Georgian national interests. But in the event of a large-scale war, it will be possible to establish uninterrupted supplies of weapons to Armenia "through the Georgian route", most probably if it is possible either to destabilise the situation in Georgia or to change and install complete puppets in power. The current Georgian authorities are pursuing their own, relatively independent and sovereign policy, which means that the threat of destabilization in Georgia with the help of Armenian's "fifth column" is real.


However, it makes no sense for Paris to "negotiate" with Georgia to obtain a "military corridor" to Armenia if France does not have the same access to the Black Sea. It seems that the French authorities are already making "offers" in this regard.


Already in February 2024, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a closed circle that he would send the military to Odessa. After that, Emmanuel Macron, officially at the summit of EU Leaders, did not rule out sending a military contingent to Ukraine, which has already provoked a negative reaction from Russia. Russian politicians are already throwing "thunder and lightning" on this issue, but it is those who have the reputation of "Kremlin clowns" who are doing it. First, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened the French with "consequences", and then the deputy speaker of the State Duma, Pyotr Tolstoy, said even harsher that the Russians would "kill any French soldiers who come on Ukrainian soil". "You, the French, who want to come to Odessa with soldiers, are provoking World War III," Pyotr Tolstoy added.


It seems that Pyotr Tolstoy is not even aware of the fact that the French military will be in Odessa not only to confront Russia. Although the French president uses anti-Russian rhetoric and "helping Ukraine in a war with Russia" as an excuse. Judging by the latest geopolitical trends, war with Russia is not the main purpose of the French presence in Odessa.


France and other Western countries have recently had enough of the Ukrainian army fighting Russia, and the same NATO countries have been supplying them with weapons. The US and France have reduced their aid to Ukraine in recent months, essentially bringing the war to a "positional stalemate". Here the question arises: was such a reduction in aid not a deliberate "game" to have an excuse for the introduction of troops "to save Ukraine," the same French troops? Not just anywhere, but on the Ukrainian Black Sea coast.


France needs a "base" on the Black Sea in Odessa in order to have "logistical access" through the Black Sea to the South Caucasus, bypassing the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which are controlled by Turkey. If Ukraine was winning and successfully regaining its territories, there was no particular reason to discuss the introduction of French troops into Odessa. The Ukrainians themselves could have objected, as could Turkey.


However, Ukraine has not achieved any significant progress on the front for over a year. Therefore, Kiev welcomed Macron's announcement of his intention to deploy his army to Odessa, even though it is suspected that the French military will be there not so much to assist Ukraine but to pursue other geopolitical objectives of France.


France is also working to remove Russia's influence from Armenia, with the enthusiastic support of Armenian nationalists and the pro-Western Armenian lobby. However, a direct war with Russia is unlikely due to the extensive joint projects between France and Russia, particularly in the field of nuclear energy.


It is noteworthy that on March 21, 2024, the International Atomic Energy Agency held a summit on nuclear energy in Brussels. The summit was attended by European heads of state and government, including French President Emmanuel Macron, and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of the Republic of Armenia. The summit did not address the issue of the Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia, which poses a significant risk of nuclear escalation in the region.   In the nuclear energy sector, a new stage of strategic cooperation between Russia and France is emerging.


The French nuclear industry, which is controlled by the state, has a preliminary agreement with Rosatom to include the latter in the European nuclear fuel supply chain organised by France.


The German town of Lingen is home to a nuclear fuel fabrication plant owned by the French company Framatome, which produces fuel for many European reactors. Framatome is now awaiting approval from the German government to start producing nuclear fuel in partnership with Rosatom. Even though at the beginning of March German environmental activists collected more than 10,000 signatures from German citizens calling for the French application to be rejected, and handed them over to the authorities.


It turns out that while French President Emmanuel Macron is threatening Moscow with sending French troops to Ukraine, his nuclear industry is building a lucrative business with Rosatom, the Kremlin's nuclear geopolitical tool. If the Lingen fuel project is approved in Germany, both France and Russia will make money from the project. But France could also find another partner to produce nuclear fuel at the new plant in Germany.


Thus, the issue of Rosatom's participation in the French nuclear business may well be used by France to get Russia, which limits itself to the loud speeches of its "political clowns on duty" like Medvedev or Tolstoy, to accept the military presence of French military personnel in Odessa and not to interfere with the "arms corridor" from Odessa to the South Caucasus.


If such a geopolitical situation develops and France builds up its military logistics through Odessa and the Black Sea, Armenia will certainly go to incite a new war in the South Caucasus, which means a sharp increase in geopolitical risks for Georgia. Not to mention that France and Armenian extremists may try to destroy the transit along the Middle Corridor from China and Central Asia through Georgia to Europe.



Alexandre Zakariadze


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