Emmanuel Macron decries Vladimir Putin’s ‘brutal attack’ on Ukraine

Condemnation comes after French and Russian leaders speak for more than an hour on the phone

French President Emmanuel Macron. AFP
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Hours after talking with Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday accused the Russian leader of launching a “brutal attack” on Ukraine in an imperialist, revanchist breaking of international law.

Mr Macron has grown increasingly critical of the Russian president as the conflict rumbles on but consistently maintained the importance of keeping an open dialogue.

He told French citizens that the resulting energy and economic crisis confronting Europe is not over, calling it “the price of our freedom and our values”.

“Since Vladimir Putin launched his brutal attack on Ukraine, war has returned to European soil a few hours away from us,” Mr Macron said in a speech commemorating the 78th anniversary of the Allied landing in Nazi-occupied southern France during the Second World War.

Mr Macron said Mr Putin is seeking to impose his “imperialist will” on Europe, conjuring “phantoms of the spirit of revenge” in a “flagrant violation of the integrity of states”.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Macron spoke for more than an hour with Mr Putin to urge Russia to accept Ukraine’s conditions to allow UN nuclear inspectors to visit Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

There are growing international concerns about security at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is occupied by Russian forces and at the heart of the conflict.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Russia on Friday not to cut off the plant.

The leaders also discussed efforts to get grain and other food commodities out of Russia. EU sanctions aimed at ending the war make exceptions for food.

It was their 20th conversation this year but their first in three months.

Updated: August 20, 2022, 10:53 AM