| 26 February 2024, Monday |

France in no mood to make concessions to Russia, presidency says

A French presidential official said on Friday that France is unlikely to make concessions to Russia and wants Ukraine to win the fight against Moscow’s invading forces with its territorial integrity restored, as Paris works to allay fears about its attitude in the conflict.

Ukraine and its eastern European allies have chastised President Emmanuel Macron after interviews published on Saturday quoted him as saying it was critical not to “humiliate” Russia so that a diplomatic solution could be found after the war ended.

“As the president has said, we want a Ukrainian victory. We want Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be restored,” the official told reporters when asked about Macron’s humiliation comments.

Macron has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly since the Feb. 24 invasion as part of efforts to achieve a ceasefire and begin a credible negotiation between Kyiv and Moscow, although he has had no tangible success to show for it.

“There is no spirit of concession towards Putin or Russia in what the president says, When he speaks to him directly, it is not compromise, but to say how we see things.”

The official defended Macron’s position repeating that there would have to be a negotiated solution to the war and arguing that the president’s comments were not always fully considered. Paris, he said, was a key backer of sanctions and provided strong military support to Ukraine.

Some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe see Macron keeping a dialogue open with Putin as undermining efforts to push Putin to the negotiating table.

Amid the malaise, Macron will travel to Romania and Moldova on June 14-15 to show Paris’ support for two of the countries most exposed to events in Ukraine.

France has about 500 soldiers on the ground and deployed a surface-to air- missile system as part of a NATO battle group it heads up in Romania. The official said Macron would visit his troops to underscore Paris’ commitment to the alliance.

Macron has not been to Kyiv to offer symbolic political support as other EU leaders have and Ukraine has wanted him to. The presidential official did not rule out a Macron visit.

  • Reuters