France recalls US, Australian ambassadors over submarine deal

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Australia after the two countries blinded their French allies with a new military pact and a submarine contract, the French foreign ministry said on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing a deal with the US and UK for the acquisition of nuclear submarines, Australia tore up an existing $ 90 billion submarine contract with France. This has led top French officials to accuse the United States of “stabbing in the back.”

Why is this important: It is extremely rare for an Ambassador to be recalled from the capital of such a close ally, and a sign of the French government‘s fury against both Australia and the United States.

What they say : “The allies don’t do that to each other,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday, comparing Biden’s announcement to “what Mr. Trump used to do”.

  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken tried to clean up by praising France as a crucial ally in the Indo-Pacific, but to no avail.
  • Le Drian said on Friday that the decision to recall ambassadors from consulates was taken by President Emmanuel Macron because of “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners” which “would affect the very conception we have of our alliances, our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe. “
  • The French Embassy in Washington also canceled a gala Thursday evening that was to celebrate the long-standing alliance between the United States and France.

Biden, for his part, announced a new deal to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines as part of a trilateral security pact with the UK and the US as a “historic step” to update US alliances to face new challenges.

  • The new trilateral partnership, called AUKUS, is part of a larger effort by Biden to develop partnerships in the Indo-Pacific to compete with China in military, economic and diplomatic dimensions.
  • He also invited the leaders of Australia, India and Japan to the White House next week for the first in-person summit of the so-called “Quad” countries.
  • But the AUKUS agreement not only outraged France, which had not been informed in advance, it also came just a day before the EU was set to present its own much-anticipated Indo-Pacific strategy, embarrassing Europeans as they sought to exercise their own geopolitical muscle.

Between the lines: This move could be in part intended for national design after a major international snub and with a presidential election looming in April.

To note: The French ambassador to the UK is not being recalled, a source close to the situation told Axios. The source provided no explanation for this decision.

Go further: Biden blinds Europe with new AUKUS alliance on China