French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday defended his continued diplomacy with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he is one of the few Western leaders that has maintained contacts with Moscow.
“The job of a diplomat is to talk to everybody and particularly to the people we disagree with,” Macron said at an address at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. “Who wants Turkey to be the only world power that is talking to Russia?”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as a broker between Russia and Ukraine. Turkey and the UN had successfully brokered the grain deal between Ukraine and Russia that has unlocked Ukraine’s Black Sea Ports and allowed over 700,000 tonnes of foodstuffs to be exported.
Macron has come under fire from other European countries for his efforts, criticism he dismissed as “mistaken morality.” He recently spoke with Putin on August 19, a conversation that focused on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
President Biden hasn’t spoken with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, and at one point appeared to call for his ousting when he said back in March that the Russian leader “cannot remain in power.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also abandoned diplomacy with Russia, having spoken with his Russian counterpart for the first time on July 29, a call that focused on a potential prisoner exchange and not the war in Ukraine.
While favoring diplomacy, Macron has still joined NATO and the EU in shipping weapons to Ukraine and sanctioning Russia. He said Thursday that Russia could not win the war in Ukraine. “We want to work towards either a victory for Ukraine or a negotiated peace reached with conditions that are acceptable to Ukraine,” he said.