Macron speaks of ‘Putin paradox’
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not an “unpleasant” man, Emmanuel Macron has said, but that cannot be an excuse for launching a “war” on Ukraine. The French president made the bizarre remark during an appearance on Saturday at Les Rencontres du Papotin, a TV program hosted by a group of journalists with autism.
Macron was grilled by the journalists on assorted issues, including his ties with Putin.
“When you meet him like that, he’s not unpleasant. That’s the paradox,” Macron stated, adding that “there is nothing to justify starting a war.”
The French president also expressed his view of the roots of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, alleging that the true goal of Putin was the restoration of the Russian “empire.” Macron, however, did not elaborate on how exactly the ongoing hostilities might help achieve this alleged goal.
“Basically, he launched this war to recover territories and to extend Russia’s perimeter to the empire that once existed. He took a very heavy responsibility for himself, his people, obviously for the people of Ukraine, and for us all. This is how I see things,” Macron said.
The president also warned about giving in to the misconception that the Russian troops were somehow on the verge of defeat in Ukraine. While those forces have sustained certain casualties, Macron asserted, Kiev’s forces were nowhere near achieving a battlefield victory.
Macron has taken a somewhat ambiguous stance over the course of the ongoing conflict. He himself has repeatedly underscored the need to engage in talks with Russia. At the same time, Paris has followed the collective West's anti-Russian stance and has actively supported Kiev, just last week pledging a new batch of wheeled tanks for Ukrainian troop forces.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
Shortly before the hostilities broke out, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Last September, Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, were incorporated into Russia following referendums.