French President Emmanuel Macron said over the weekend that the West must be careful not to humiliate Russia if a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine is to be reached.
In comments to media outlets on Saturday, liberal leftist Macron said that “we must not humiliate Russia” so that Western nations can “build an exit ramp through diplomatic means” at some future point when the war is over.
Macron added that he is convinced that France should act as a mediator in the eastern European conflict. He claimed that he has made a number of calls to Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months to advise him that he is making a “historic and fundamental mistake” for the Russian people and himself.
Some Ukrainian commenters appear to be angered by Macron’s statements, claiming that he seems positioned to appease Putin’s aggressive ambitions. Kyiv Independent writer Oleskiy Sorokin noted that Macron has only successfully humiliated himself through his “desperate push to not humiliate Putin.”
Westerners have been critical of Macron’s statements as well. Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher aide Nile Gardiner said that Macron is now Putin’s “de facto official spokesman in Europe.” He also said the French administration is undermining and dividing NATO member nations by “groveling to dictators.”
Gardiner also said that Macron’s position is leading France to “pick fights with Russia’s strongest adversaries, including Great Britain and Poland.”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak responded on Sunday to Macron’s comments by saying that holding Putin responsible for Russian aggression would not be “humiliation, but justice.”
France has acted as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine since before the invasion began in late February. Macron has said that France’s position has to be to continue financial and military support of Ukraine while imposing financial sanctions on Russia amid continuing talks.
Macron’s comments were consistent with statements he made last month during the European Union’s Europe Day celebration in Strasbourg. He said there that the settlement of the Ukrainian war would have to be determined by Ukraine and Russia, but could not happen if they acted to exclude or humiliate each other.
Russia conducted attacks on Sunday against eastern Kyiv apparently aimed at railways and fuel depots. The strikes appear to be aimed at disrupting incoming supplies from Western nations and impairing Ukraine’s ability to export goods to ports that are also being blockaded.