The reactions to Emmanuel Macron’s attitude towards the crisis in Ukraine and especially to Vladimir Putin, have been known for a long time. But they were mainly expressed by the Ukrainians, who did not hide their anger, especially for the French President’s reference that his Russian counterpart “should not be humiliated”.
But the former Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said it “out of the teeth”: Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic efforts in response to the war in Ukraine were a failure and “deeply harmful” for Kyiv.
“They were not successful,” Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who was one of the world’s most senior diplomats until he left the transatlantic defense alliance in 2014, bluntly told French magazine Le Point.
His comments come after criticism, especially in eastern Europe, of how Macron has kept an open line with Russian President Vladimir Putin with direct phone calls even after the invasion of Ukraine, as well as warnings from the French president not to “humiliate” Russia.
“Macron surprised us at the beginning of the crisis with his, to say the least, unique and critical statement that Putin should not be humiliated and should be offered a way out. Such statements were devastating and deeply harmful“, he added.
The French president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, Rasmussen’s remarks come as Macron appears to be “re-weighing” his message by adopting a tougher anti-Moscow tone.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, the French leader reiterated his belief that world leaders should continue dialogue with Russia, adding that he will speak with Putin again in the coming days in order to address the security situation regarding nuclear reactors located in Ukraine’s war zones.
But, according to observers, Macron’s speech at the UN, in which accused Russia of modern imperialism and urged developing nations to rally against Moscow, marked a change in tone.
Macron said that peace talks can only bring results if “Ukraine’s sovereignty is respected, its territory is liberated and her safety is protected”.
“Russia must now understand that it cannot impose its will by military means,” Macron said.
Rasmussen was not convinced.
“It has weakened international cohesion and i think he now regrets it and is trying to regain the initiative“, he said in the interview.