Macron says phone calls with Putin ‘not pleasant’

By Anadolu Agency

French President Emmanuel Macron confessed Friday that his telephone calls with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin concern him and are unpleasant.

“It bothers me to talk to him, it’s not pleasant. But what do we do? We have to prepare the cease-fire,” he said in an interview with French digital platform Brut media.

He said hopes for a cease-fire appeared dim in the context of what was happening on the ground in Ukraine, citing atrocities against civilians by Russian forces in Bucha. He added that France was currently gathering “evidence” on Russia’s actions as the crimes should not go unpunished.

Macron has held several calls lasting more than an hour each with Putin since the outbreak of the war with Ukraine on Feb. 24.

He also had face-to-face meetings with Putin in Moscow before the war began. He is among the few western leaders to have maintained a continuous dialogue with Putin in a bid to persuade him to implement a cease-fire.

The outgoing head of state who is gearing up for re-election as France heads to the polls Sunday, said he felt it is his responsibility to conduct diplomatic outreach with the Kremlin.

The phone exchanges, he said, were also conducted at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with whom Putin refuses to talk to.

“Every time I do it (call Putin), I ask President Zelensky and every time, the Ukrainian president says: ‘Talking to Putin is important for me. Do it, because I can’t talk to him,” said Macron.

Macron has been criticized by Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki for talking to Putin, comparing the efforts to “negotiating with Hitler.”

The French president hit back, calling Morawiecki “a far-right anti-Semite who bans LGBT people.”

The war of words was not appreciated in Warsaw, with the foreign ministry summoning the French ambassador Friday because of Macron’s comments made in an interview with the Le Parisien newspaper.