French President Emmanuel Macron sparked a cascade of virtue outsignaling and social media outrage after he said that “it is vital that Russia is not humiliated so that when the fighting stops in Ukraine a diplomatic solution can be found,” adding that he believed Paris would play a mediating role to end the conflict.
While Macron has sought to maintain a dialogue with Vladimir Putin since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February, his stance has been repeatedly criticized by some staunch anti-Russia eastern European and Baltic states as they see it as undermining efforts to pressure Putin to the negotiating table.
“We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means,” Macron said in an interview to regional newspapers published on Saturday. “I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.”
Predictably, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, who spends most of his time on twitter, slammed Macron’s comments, responding on Twitter on Saturday that “calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it. Because it is Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.”
All this comes as western media drops much of the propaganda facade over the past three months and admits that the Ukraine war has actually been a disaster for, well, Ukraine (NYT: “Ukraine War’s Geographic Reality: Russia Has Seized Much of the East“, WaPo: “Ukrainian volunteer fighters in the east feel abandoned“).
Meanwhile, while all some do is tweet, Macron has actually spoken with Putin repeatedly since the invasion as part of efforts to achieve a ceasefire and begin a credible negotiation between Kyiv and Moscow. “I think, and I told him, that he is making a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history,” Macron said.
France has supported Ukraine militarily and financially, but until now Macron has not been to Kyiv to offer symbolic political support like other EU leaders, something Ukraine has wanted him to do. Macron said he had not ruled out going. Paris sends offensive weapons including Caesar howitzer canon taken from French army stocks. Macron said he had asked weapons manufacturers to accelerate production.