Macron: Russian President Putin alone chose war in Ukraine

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday denounced the Russian government’s “lies” to justify the war in Ukraine, but said he would remain in touch with President Vladimir Putin to try to secure a ceasefire.

Macron, who led European efforts to avoid war by visiting Putin in Moscow last month and mediating by phone between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Russian leader, blamed the hostilities on the Kremlin.

Praising Zelensky as the face of “honour, freedom and courage,” Macron said in a nationwide address to the French people: “Only, betraying his international obligations one by one, President Putin chose war.”

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“This war is not a conflict between the West and Russia, as some of us would like to believe. There is no NATO base in Ukraine. These are lies. Russia is not hostile, it is the aggressor. This war is not a fight against Nazism.. It is a lie.”

Russia says it is carrying out a “special military operation” aimed at disarming Ukraine and arresting the “neo-Nazis” that Putin says run the country.

Macron, speaking less than two months before the presidential election in which he has yet to announce his candidacy, said he would continue to defend France’s values ​​and its place in the world.

French President Emmanuel Macron appears on screen while giving a speech about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Paris, France, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Piroshka van de Wou

He warned that higher energy prices would inevitably have an impact on the French economy.

“Tomorrow the price of filling the tank, the amount of heating bills and the cost of some products are likely to be higher,” he said.

But Macron said the cost would not only appear in the short term, adding that the war in Ukraine represented a new era, in which the war in Europe was a reality.

“War in Europe is no longer just in the history books, it is here,” Macron said. “Democracy is no longer unquestioned, it is being challenged before our very eyes.”

Macron also said that, unlike his domestic plans to make France less dependent on foreign energy sources by building new nuclear plants, he said he would push at the European level the European Union to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

“The war in Ukraine is a respite for our continent and our generation,” he said.

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(Report) by Tassilu Hamel and Sudeep Kar Gupta; Writing by Michelle Rose; Editing by Richard Love and Toby Chopra

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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