Zelenskyy takes aim at France's Macron over refusal to talk of 'genocide'

Emmanuel Macron defended his position, saying leaders should be careful with language

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and French President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 8. Ukrainian Presidential Press Office / AP
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday denounced French leader Emmanuel Macron's refusal to call killings in Ukraine "genocide" and his reference to Russians as a "brotherly" people.

"Such things are very painful for us, so I will definitely do my best to discuss this issue with him," Mr Zelenskyy said alongside visiting leaders of Poland and the Baltic states.

The leaders of France and Germany on Wednesday declined to repeat US President Joe Biden's accusation that Russia was carrying out "genocide" against Ukrainians, saying it would not help to end the war.

Mr Biden on Tuesday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces of committing genocide in Ukraine, saying it has "become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian".

But as he intensifies his re-election campaign against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, French President Emmanuel Macron told France 2 TV that leaders should be careful with language.

"I would say that Russia unilaterally unleashed the most brutal war, that it is now established that war crimes were committed by the Russian army and that it is now necessary to find those responsible and make them face justice," Mr Macron said.

"It's madness what's happening, it's incredibly brutal.

"But at the same time, I look at the facts and I want to try as much as possible to continue to be able to stop this war and to rebuild peace. I'm not sure that verbal escalations serve this cause."

Mr Macron said it was best to be "careful" with the terminology on genocide in these situations, especially as "the Ukrainians and Russians are brotherly peoples".

Updated: April 13, 2022, 9:32 PM