French President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic efforts in response to Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine have been a failure and “deeply damaging” to Kyiv, former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview published on Friday, Reuters reports. .
“It was not a success,” Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who was one of the world’s top diplomats until he left the transatlantic defense alliance in 2014, told French magazine Le Point.
His comments come after criticism, particularly 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, and warned against “humiliating” Russia.
“Macron stunned us at the beginning of the crisis with his at least unique and critical statement that Putin should not be humiliated and offered an exit ramp. Such statements were disastrous and deeply damaging,” he added.
The French presidential office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, Rasmussen’s attack comes at a time when Macron is recalibrating his message and taking a firmer tone against Moscow.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the French leader reiterated his belief that world leaders must maintain dialogue with Russia, adding that he would speak with Putin again in the coming days to address the reactor safety situation nukes located in war zones in Ukraine.
But Macron’s UN speech, in which he accused Russia of modern imperialism and urged developing nations to ally against Moscow, marked a change in tone, observers said.
Macron said the peace talks could only work if “Ukraine’s sovereignty is respected, its territory is liberated and its security is protected.”
“Russia must now understand that it cannot impose its will by military means,” Macron said.
Rasmussen was not convinced.
“He weakened international cohesion and I think he now regrets it and is trying to regain the initiative,” he said in the interview.
In an interview with CNN, the French president said Putin felt the West “didn’t respect him properly” and that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “post-Covid-19 effect” caused by the Russian president staying too much in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think in the logic of things – and here I’m not trying to find an explanation or somehow excuse him – we have to take into account that there is a frustration on the Russian side. He felt that after the 1990s, we (the West) did not respect him properly. I don’t think that justifies what he did, I don’t want to excuse him. But that’s how he thinks and we have to understand that,” Macron said.