A quartet of women facing Putin

They are four, responsible for the diplomacy of the largest economy on the planet. And for six months, they stood together against Vladimir Putin. This quartet of female foreign ministers is united not only to confront the Russian regime and ensure that the international community remembers the protection of women in the conflict in Ukraine, but also to support the leaders of other countries that are fighting of the consequences of this war. . A feminine offensive on all fronts. “We need to support each other, among fellow women,” said Canada’s top diplomat, Mélanie Joly, in an interview.

For the first time, most of the G7 foreign ministers are women. Three of them are in their forties. Mélanie Joly is 43 years old, Briton Elizabeth Truss, 47, and German Annalena Baerbock, the youngest of the group, is 41 years old. Catherine Colonna, appointed to Foreign Affairs in France in May, is 66 years old.

Denied counterparts

The contrast is striking, facing a 69-year-old Vladimir Putin who has shaped the image of a macho leader for more than 20 years, with shots of him shirtless on a horse or holding a rifle. Twenty-nine of the 32 members of his cabinet are men.

His Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov – 72 years old, in office since 2004 – did not hesitate to publicly abuse his new counterparts. He detained Elizabeth Truss during their first meeting last winter discussing the territorial boundaries of Russia and Ukraine. The exchange, private, was immediately sent to the Russian media to embarrass the new minister. This summer, Mr. Lavrov chose to leave the G20 foreign ministers meeting in the middle of the response that Annalena Baerbock served him.

Cronyism in the shadow of conflict

“Sergueï Lavrov always tests us psychologically,” reports Mélanie Joly. “She always uses sometimes the charm, sometimes the threat to harm her counterparts. But we also have a powerful destabilizing force against her. Because we are able to work within the female unity and exchange advice, way of doing things and supporting each other. »

The bond of friendship between Mélanie Joly, Liz Truss and Annalena Baerbock was immediate, remembered first. In December 2021, as Russia began to amass its troops on the Ukrainian border, the three newly appointed ministers met at the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Liverpool. The tide has passed. Almost a dozen other meetings of the G7, four of NATO, one of the G20 followed. So always the coffees. So are secure calls and texts.

And this, although the three women have differences of opinion and political affiliation. “On the question of Ukraine, we quickly became allies, because we have the same reading of the situation. We are united in front of an injustice that is obvious and requires very strong action. »

Catherine Colonna joined them three months ago. “In the beginning, it was more than a trio. I am happy that we have added another woman,” said Mélanie Joly.

Cooperate among allies

In phone calls and meetings, the ministers coordinated the imposition of sanctions on Russia and sending military aid to Ukraine. Liz Truss and Mélanie Joly also signed an open letter published in their national media condemning the sexual violence committed against Ukrainian women in Boutcha and Irpin and demanding that those responsible be brought to justice justice. The ministers helped their Swedish counterpart, Ann Linde, to negotiate with Turkey for the country to accept Sweden’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In dealing with the geopolitical consequences of war, we want to ensure that women are not considered victims, but also the center of solutions.

Annalena Baerbock has called a summit of European allies to support Moldovan President Maia Sandu as she battles a massive influx of refugees. Mélanie Joly helped her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, who heads the G20 this year, to manage Russia’s presence at the meetings.

“In managing the geopolitical consequences of the war, we want to ensure that women are not considered victims, but also the center of solutions,” said Minister Joly.

Women’s collaboration beyond collaboration within the G7 is not unimaginable. “Because misogyny exists. Because not all countries are on the same level when it comes to recognizing gender equality. »

After six months of conflict, Jocelyn Coulon, an expert in international politics at the University of Montreal and a former adviser to Mr.ME Joly, observed in The duty that the international common front began to crumble.

“Although some countries have sometimes been more neutral or more timid in condemning the invasion, no G20 country has supported Russia. [lors de la rencontre des ministres en juillet] ” replied the Minister.

mME Joly also remains optimistic, even though her quartet is about to lose a player, as polls predict Briton Liz Truss will be elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on Monday . “Another woman in the spheres of power is always good news for the cause of women,” he said, not wanting to think about the result of the English vote.

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