Macron rebuked for suggesting Russia needs 'security guarantees' to return to negotiations

Kyiv leads chorus of criticism against French President's comments on Ukraine war talks

French President Emmanuel Macron, pictured meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in February, has drawn criticism with some of his latest comments. AFP
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A suggestion by President Emmanuel Macron that the West should offer Russia guarantees to return to negotiations to end the Ukraine war has been condemned by Kyiv and its allies.

Mr Macron told French TV at the weekend that Europe needed to improve its security infrastructure and think "how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table".

Mykhailo Podolyak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said it should be the other way around.

"Civilised world needs 'security guarantees' from barbaric intentions of post-Putin Russia," Mr Podolyak tweeted on Sunday.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, said a "denuclearised and demilitarised" Russia offer be the best guarantee of peace.

"Someone wants to provide security guarantees to a terrorist and killer state?" Mr Danilov wrote on Twitter.

"Instead of Nuremberg — to sign an agreement with Russia and shake hands?"

The trials in Nuremberg to prosecute Nazi war criminals after the Second World War are widely regarded as the forerunners of tribunals such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Moscow denies allegations its forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.

Kyiv and Moscow have not met to negotiate for months, after conducting several rounds of talks earlier in the war.

The Ukrainian government says peace talks are possible only if Russia halts its attacks and withdraws from all territories it seized.

But the Kremlin said the West must recognise Moscow's declared annexation in September of "new territories" before any talks with Mr Putin could take place.

Mr Macron last week held talks with US President Joe Biden in Washington on the war in Ukraine. Mr Biden said afterwards that there were no conditions for US-Russia discussions about ending the conflict.

Victoria Nuland, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, said Mr Putin's insistence on recognition of the declared annexations indicated he was not serious about peace talks.

"Diplomacy is obviously everyone's objective but you have to have a willing partner," she told reporters after meeting Mr Zelenskyy in Kyiv at the weekend. "And it's very clear ... that Putin is not sincere or ready for that."

Mr Zelenskyy has not yet commented on Mr Macron's suggestion, which also spurred criticism in some Baltic countries that border Russia and consider it a growing threat.

Former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb said he disagreed with Macron "fundamentally".

"The only security guarantees we should focus on are essentially non-Russian," he said on his Twitter account. "Russia needs first to guarantee that it does not attack others."

Lithuania's former foreign minister, Linas Linkevicus, said Russia had security guarantees as long as it did not "attack, annex or occupy" its neighbours.

"If anyone wants to create a new security architecture that allows a terrorist state to continue its methods of intimidation, they should think again, it will not fly," Mr Linkevicus said on Twitter.

In Kyiv, David Arakhamia, a politician and member of Ukraine's negotiation team with Russia when talks were taking place, said Ukraine was ready to provide Moscow with security guarantees as long as it met four conditions.

"For this it is enough: leave the territory of our country, pay reparations, punish all war criminals; voluntarily surrender nuclear weapons," Mr Arakhamia said on the Telegram messaging app.

"After that, we are ready to sit down at the negotiation table and talk about security guarantees."

Mr Macron and Mr Zelenskyy have held frequent talks during more than nine months of the war, and Ukraine's President has thanked his French counterpart for trying to find diplomatic solutions while also rejecting his suggestions that Kyiv could be ready to compromise.

In May, Mr Macron was widely criticised for saying Russia should not be humiliated so that when the fighting stops in Ukraine a diplomatic solution could be found.

Updated: December 05, 2022, 10:22 AM