Russian state TV pundits mock Macron's attempts to talk to Putin
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The French President on Wednesday said Ukraine would have to hold talks with Russia at some point to try and bring an end to the military conflict between the two countries. Previous comments by Mr Macron, who has sought to keep an open communication channel with Russian President Vladimir Putin, have led to criticism of the re-elected leader by Kyiv officials.
Mr Macron has had many conversations with Putin since the start of his invasion of Ukraine in late February,
The French leader’s stance has at times been criticised by Ukraine and eastern European allies as they perceive it as not sufficiently backing Kyiv.
While UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson regularly uses wording such as Ukraine “must win”, or says Kyiv must not be strong-armed into accepting a bad peace deal, Mr Macron — alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz — has remained more ambiguous, pledging to stop Putin from winning rather than to defeat him, while at the same time supporting tough new sanctions against the Kremlin.
His latest claim, made during a three-day trip to Romania and Moldova, could be judged as just the same.
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He said: “The Ukrainian President and his officials will have to negotiate with Russia.”
The comment echoes those made earlier this morning in an interview with a group of French regional newspapers.
He said: “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day the fighting stops, we can build a way out through diplomatic channels.”
The French president said his Russian counterpart had made a “historic and fundamental” mistake in invading Ukraine – but that nevertheless, a wider escalation in hostilities had to be avoided.
A blunt Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba slammed Mr Macron’s piece of advice.
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He wrote on Twitter: “Calls to avoid [the] humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it. Because it is Russia that humiliates itself.
“We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.”
Mr Macron’s visit to Ukraine’s eastern neighbours Romania and Moldova may possibly be followed by a symbolic trip to Kyiv on Thursday with Mr Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
It would come a day before the European Commission makes a recommendation on Ukraine’s status as a European Union candidate.
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Foreign policy aside, Mr Macron and his ministers are deep into campaigning ahead of the second round of France’s fiercely contested parliamentary election at the end of the week.
Although Mr Macron won with 58.54 percent of the votes in April, the législatives are decisive in either granting or depriving the French President of a National Assembly majority, which he needs in order to have a free hand for his proposals to cut taxes and make changes to the welfare system.
The first round, last Sunday, suggested he could lose his majority, which he needs badly to get a full grip on both the domestic and international fronts.
According to results published by the interior ministry on Monday, his Ensemble (Together) party took 25.75 percent of the vote, while a historic alliance of parties on the left — led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s France Unbowed and including the Socialists and the Greens — took 25.66 percent.
Mr Mélenchon’s alliance, known as the Nupes or the New Popular Ecological and Social Union, is aiming to increase its seats and reduce the number of Macron’s centrists.
Shortly after the first projections emerged, the far-left runner-up urged voters to go to the polls in a week’s time to “reject definitively the disastrous policies of Mr Macron’s majority”.
Mr Macron and his team have warned Mr Mélenchon was dangerous and an extremist who would threaten the European Union, “ally with Russia” and contribute to “world disorder”.
New prime minister Élisabeth Borne, who is running for the first time in a Normandy seat, said: “We have a week ahead of us to mobilise … One week to convince, one week to obtain a powerful and clear majority.”
Ensemble, she added, was “the only political grouping capable of getting a majority”.
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