Quote from: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/21/world/europe/france-putin-wizard-kremlin-da-empoli.html
Published shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the novel ["Le Mage du Kremlin"] has become a popular guide for understanding Mr. Putin’s motives. It has also turned its Swiss-Italian author, Giuliano da Empoli, into a coveted “Kremlinologist,” invited to lunch with the French prime minister and to France’s top morning news show to analyze the war’s developments.
At worst, critics say, it signals lenient views of Mr. Putin that are enduring in France and may shape the country’s stance on the war, as reflected in President Emmanuel Macron’s calls not to humiliate Russia.
“The book conveys the clichés of Russian propaganda with a few small nuances,” said Cécile Vaissié, a political scientist specializing in Russia at Rennes 2 University. “When I see its success, that worries me.”
Françoise Thom, a professor of Russian history at the Sorbonne, said these descriptions “completely conceal the sordid dimension of the Putin reality” and are “very close to the Russian propaganda image.”
Ms. Vaissié, the political scientist, put it more bluntly. “It’s a bit like Russia Today for Saint-Germain-des-Prés,” she said, referring to the Kremlin-funded television channel and the Paris redoubt of the French literary elite.
The arguments over the book are occurring just when divisions persist in Europe over how to deal with Mr. Putin. While Eastern European countries like Poland say he must be defeated outright, Western European nations like France have wavered between unequivocal financial and military support of Ukraine and reaching out to Mr. Putin.
“This book has become almost a textbook of history and politics for French leaders,” said Alexandre Melnik, a former Russian diplomat who opposes Mr. Putin. He pointed to Mr. Macron’s remarks that appeared sympathetic to Russia’s grievances.
Three presidential advisers declined to say, or said they did not know, whether Mr. Macron had read the novel.
Mr. Védrine, the former foreign minister, who has sometimes advised Mr. Macron on Russia, acknowledged that if the French president read the book, it would not lead him to adopt an aggressive stance toward Russia. He added that he saw a medium-term benefit to the book’s popularity: making the case for reaching out to Mr. Putin, “when it will be acceptable.”
Scholz and Macron are hard at work ensuring Putin's victory, following the scenario prescribed to them. Orban figured the game out early on.