Despite ruling out talks with Moscow, the Ukrainian leader is seemingly using his French counterpart as a go-between
French President Emmanuel Macron’s phone calls with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, were mostly taking place “at the request of President Zelensky” of Ukraine, a French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Saturday. Zelensky has publicly stated that he will never speak to Putin in person and has made peace talks with the Russian leader illegal.
“Mr. Macron mainly calls President Putin at the request of the President [Vladimir] Zelensky, and always in concert with our allies to maintain a channel for dialogue,” That said spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during an interview with RTVI.
Kiev has never admitted that Zelensky is pressuring his Western backers to talk to Putin, and the Ukrainian leader himself signed a decree in October banning negotiations with Moscow unless “Another President of Russia” replaces the current resident of the Kremlin. With negotiations officially off the table, Zelensky has repeatedly vowed to use force to seize Russian territory claimed by Ukraine, including Crimea.
Among Western leaders, Macron is one of the small minorities who maintain contact with Putin. Both he and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have had regular phone conversations with the Russian leader since Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine began nearly a year ago.
Legendre said that at one point “The Ukrainians will decide that it is time for negotiations. That is why we find it useful to maintain this channel of dialogue.”
Macron and Scholz have been condemned by their Eastern European allies for holding talks with Putin. ‘Why talk to him? He’s a war criminal.” This was stated by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas last summer. “I feel like if everyone is constantly calling him, he’s not getting the message that he’s isolated.”
While Macron has defended his talks with Putin and spoken publicly about the need to reach a ceasefire that will not “humiliate Russia”, he continued to supply the army of Kiev with increasingly heavier weapons. France announced last month that it would send infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, and Macron last week refused to rule out the eventual transfer of fighter jets.
Western countries supplying arms to Ukraine have made themselves de facto participants in the conflict, Moscow has repeatedly stated.
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