Macron warns against humiliating Moscow

In an interview published in several French regional newspapers, President Emmanuel Macron has warned that humiliating Russia could prevent a diplomatic solution in the war against Ukraine once the fighting ends. He also said he believed France would play a mediating role to end the conflict.

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Fokus (UA) /

Paris just looking for a way out for Russia

Vitaliy Bala, director of the Ukrainian Situations Modeling Agency, fears that the French president is serving Russian interests. He writes in Focus:

“Unfortunately Macron did not specify what he meant when he spoke of a humiliation for Russia. Did he mean that Ukraine should be forced to make peace so as not to humiliate Russia? After all, it was he who offered to cede Ukrainian territories. And when Macron says that France is willing to play a mediating role, one gets the impression that the French president is seeking an acceptable way out for Russia rather than punishing the aggressor and bringing him to justice for all the cruelty and atrocities.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Don't play into Putin's hands

Macron's stance is dangerous, warns John Sawers, former chief of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, in the Financial Times:

“Ukraine's leaders worry that such comments are a prelude to another round of diplomacy designed to achieve a premature ceasefire that would save Putin's face at the cost of undermining Ukraine. ... If another round of European diplomacy leaves Russia once again sitting on its military gains in Ukraine, then Putin will regain political strength at home and feel empowered to launch new military adventures in the future. ... But a premature ceasefire will help Putin snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. No western leader should be his enabler.”

Spotmedia (RO) /

A Siberian blizzard in Paris

Spotmedia reacts with sarcasm:

“Perhaps these words were addressed to Kyiv, which has plunged the European world into crisis because the Ukrainian president wasn't willing to give up Crimea and the Donbass and didn't listen to France and Germany within the shameful Normandy Format, which gave priority to Mr Putin's interests. Perhaps that made Mr Macron really angry, because Paris's mediation was a fiasco and failed to prevent the invasion, which is now causing the rise in gas prices. ... If we factor in the French foreign minister's words when he said that it will be 15 years before Ukraine becomes a Nato member, it's clear that there is no longer a mistral blowing in Mr Macron's palace, but a Siberian blizzard.”

LRT (LT) /

Playing with people's lives

Political scientist Rima Urbonaitė warns on Lrt:

“This game of Macron and also other leaders is becoming more and more dangerous. First, it could cause a rift in the Western bloc of countries. Second, it could cost even more lives if Russia interprets the statement as an opportunity to test more red lines. If you impose sanctions with one hand but try to prevent potential humiliation on the other, this will be interpreted in Russia as a green light for further provocations. ... But it seems that not all lives are equal. So much for the politics of values.”

Sme (SK) /

Enough to make your stomach turn

The French president must have had too many therapeutic conversations with Putin, Sme frets:

“The very thought that we must at all cost avoid hurting the sensitive soul of a barbarian who robs a neighbour and massacres civilians makes your stomach turn. ... Macron and any Slovak Putin sympathisers need to be reminded that anyone who wants a diplomatic solution should turn to Moscow, not Kyiv. Ukraine cannot talk to Putin until the front lines return to the way they were before February 24. That is a minimalist condition. If the government in Kyiv were to abandon it, it would be betraying the 93 percent of its own citizens who clearly support the armed defence of Ukrainian statehood today.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Not a real statesman

Although the French president preaches European sovereignty he is refusing to defend it at the crucial moment, writes political analyst Sebastião Bugalho in Diário de Notícias:

“It's one thing to maintain functioning communication channels between the Kremlin and the West. But it's quite another to engage in appeasement in the midst of a conflict. The man who wanted to reconnect Europe with Moscow and attend the Victory Day Parade alongside Putin, and who has already been forced to rectify statements on Ukraine's territorial integrity, should adopt a different tone. ... The first hundred days of the war have once again shown that Macron is more a man of concepts than a real statesman.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Ominous dream of a special role

Macron is sprinting after a train that has long since departed, comments the Frankfurter Rundschau:

“Saving the world with French diplomacy - as if all that was needed was for some bright minds in the Paris Foreign Ministry at the Quai d'Orsay to come up with a few new compromise papers - Minsk III, IV or V. But unfortunately that's not the way things work anymore. ... Russia's war should really have been the hour for all European democracies to move closer together. But Macron is now emphasising his country's ominous special role as a 'mediating power' - as if France were somehow different from the other countries, as if it were endowed with a special soul or special talent.”

Le Point (FR) /

Poor communication

France's president could have communicated his position more clearly, Le Point criticises:

“Diplomacy and war can be used in parallel, that is nothing new. But the balancing act should have been better explained. It's paradoxical that France, which is the most active in promoting European defence and the only nation on the continent to have a real army, is now being accused of a laxity that undermines the EU's ambitions in favour of Nato. ... A visit by Macron to Kyiv would certainly have been useful. It would have made his message - which is well worth reading and according to which unbending commitment to Ukraine does not preclude more long-term reflection - more comprehensible.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Ukraine must not be left alone

Not only Macron but also time is working in Putin's favour, Ilta-Sanomat fears:

“France isn't the only country facing uncertain prospects: because firstly Russia's war of aggression and secondly the economic sanctions have caused energy and food prices to rise across Europe, including in Finland. There is a growing danger that the rising costs of everyday life will divert public attention - and hence also that of policy makers - from Ukraine to the challenges facing our own economies. That is why Ukraine must not be left alone. The war must end before it - and Ukraine's plight - are forgotten.”