Macron: Humiliating Russia won’t bring peace  

May 10, 2022 - 19:4

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned against humiliating Russia for its military offensive in Ukraine, if and when any peace deal is agreed upon.

Speaking to reporters in the French city of Strasbourg, Macron says that once the war ends, Moscow and Kyiv will eventually have to sit down and negotiate peace terms, so any further tensions will only serve to the detriment of the situation.

"We will have a peace to build tomorrow, let us never forget that," Macron said "I mentioned this earlier. We will have to do this with Ukraine and Russia around the table. The end of the discussion and the negotiation will be set by Ukraine and Russia."

However, Macron says this will “not be done in denial, nor in exclusion of each other, nor even in humiliation."

In what may come as a blow to the government in Kyiv, Macron also said it would take "decades" for Ukraine to join the European Union. 

"I am saying this in all honesty; honesty that we owe to the Ukrainians," Macron said, "we can have an accelerated process... to accept candidate status for Ukraine but we know that given our standards and the criteria, it would probably take decades for Ukraine to really join the European Union."

Ukraine had been seeking a quick route to EU membership and Macron’s remarks will come as another setback for Kyiv, which has also been refused membership in NATO. 

The French leader laid out his vision of a broader club of European nations that would allow for deeper cooperation between non-EU countries.

Under this new wider “political community”, nations like Ukraine and even the United Kingdom could be included, Macron explained. 

The French President whose country currently holds the EU’s presidency says a new organization would try and achieve objectives beyond the scope of the EU.

"The European Union, given the level of its integration and ambition, cannot be in the short term the only means of structuring the European continent," he pointed out.

The initiative was immediately supported by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was standing alongside the French President. 

Vladimir Medinsky, the Russian chief negotiator says that peace talks with Ukraine had not stopped and were being held remotely. 

Moscow has accused Kyiv of stalling the talks and using reports of atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine to undermine the negotiations. Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls its "special military operation".

Asked when-in-person talks might be held with Ukrainian negotiators, Medinsky said "we need more specifics on hand in order to meet in person."

Since March 29, Ukraine and Russia have not held face-to-face peace talks, but have been meeting via video conferences. 

Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that there was a risk the peace process could collapse.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls Moscow's actions a "special military operation" in the face of NATO's eastward expansion on Russian borders. Putin has also previously claimed the "special military operation" is designed to disarm Ukraine, defend Russian speakers from persecution and prevent the United States and its allies from using the country to threaten Russian security. 

Ukraine dismisses Moscow’s claims of persecution and denies any threat to Russia from Ukraine or Western countries.

Meanwhile, during his address at the Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square to mark Russia’s victory over Germany in the Second World War, Putin said Russia’s military operation in Ukraine was a preemptive move against future aggression. 

Putin praised the achievement of the Soviet people during World War II and further addressed the Kremlin's reasons for the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kyiv. 

Putin insisted Russia had to act because of a security threat in the eastern Donbass region and added “we saw the military infrastructure unfolding [in Ukraine]; hundreds of foreign advisers starting their work; there were regular deliveries of the most modern weapons from NATO countries. The danger grew every day,” the president explained.

“Russia gave a preemptive rebuff to aggression – this was a forced, timely, and the only right decision by a sovereign, strong and independent country,” he added, referring to the launch of the military operation.

“Despite all the disagreements in international relations, Russia has always advocated the creation of a system of equal and indivisible security,” Putin continued. 

The Russian leader highlighted  Moscow’s attempts to engage in dialogue on security guarantees with Washington late last year, which the latter failed to address. 

Experts say providing those guarantees could have, in essence, prevented a war, had the White House responded to reassure Russia and address its security concerns. 

“NATO countries didn’t want to hear us, which means that, in fact, they harbored completely different plans, and we saw it,” Putin added. 

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden has resurrected a World War II act to accelerate weapons shipments to Ukraine for its battle against Russian forces.

Weapons sent under this act are separate from the nearly $4 billion in military aid that the U.S. has already sent to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s military operation in February, and from the $33 billion worth of military aid that the president recently asked Congress to approve.

He also signaled that he is ready to make a political concession in Congress to win quick approval of a request for another $33 billion in funds to send more weapons to Ukraine.

Biden said he is ready to drop funding for the Covid-19 pandemic for Americans and just get the money for weapons to Ukraine through.

Some Democrats have expressed disappointment the COVID-19 aid would be considered separately.

Senior Senate Democrat Dick Durbin told reporters "It would have been so much better for us to protect the United States as well as worked to protect Ukraine,"

Asked if separating Ukraine aid hurts prospects for COVID-19 aid, Durbin said, "It doesn't help. Putting those two together would have been positive."

The act, which passed Congress last month with 417-10 votes in the House and flew with flying colors in the Senate, suspends limitations on the number of weapons and other military supplies Biden can send to Ukraine or “other Eastern European countries”.

However, it does stipulate that Kyiv must subsequently pay for whatever it receives. Kyiv’s ability to later repay the U.S. has been under the spotlight, considering Zelensky had recently asked the U.S. and the EU for $7 billion per month to keep the country’s economy afloat. 

Critics have accused the U.S. and its NATO allies of prolonging the war and suffering of Ukrainians by sending weapons, instead of backing the peace process to end the war. 

Even the unprecedented sanctions imposed against Russia have been questioned as the measures have failed to end the conflict. 

Experts argue Washington triggered the war and is trying to ensure the fighting stays at an impasse in a bit to confront Russia’s rising economy and military strength as well as its growing ties with other EU nations.

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden was not happy with leaks to American news outlets in which U.S. intelligence took credit for helping Ukraine target a Russian ship and Russian generals in Ukraine.

"The president was displeased with the leaks… and he did not feel they were constructive," she said.

The American news reports do not indicate how many Russian generals had been killed in Ukraine using U.S. intelligence to locate their whereabouts.

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