War in Ukraine: we explain to you why there is water in the gas between Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky

How long ago the time when, at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron took daily news from Volodymyr Zelensky. Telephone exchanges between the French president and his Ukrainian counterpart in khaki have become less frequent.

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It must be said that between Paris and kyiv, the subjects of disagreement have multiplied and that pseveral times, the Frenchman has disappointed the expectations of the Ukrainian. On joining the European Union, on how to deal with Vladimir Putin… Result: after four months of conflict, the first’s popularity rating with the second has fallen very low. As the tenant of the Elysée Palace continues a tour of Romania and Moldova, at the gates of the conflict, Wednesday June 15, franceinfo tells you how relations between the two leaders have cooled.

A proposal for a “European political community” which displeased

During his speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg on May 9, Emmanuel Macron, who holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union until June 30, surprises everyone by announcing the creation of a new institutional structure: the “European political community”. Rather than pure and simple membership of the European Union, the French president offers countries wishing to join the EU another form of cooperation. Specifically, this organization “would allow democratic European nations adhering to our core values ​​to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation“, explains the French head of state in the process.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine, even more eager to join the EU since Russia invaded its national territory, took this message to itself. The same day, Volodymyr Zelensky takes advantage of a remote meeting with French students to say what he thinks. “We can’t stay in this uncertainty constantly. It’s like a table where the whole family is gathered, you’re invited, but you haven’t been given a chair. It’s unfair, he repeats, in videoconference. Ukraine respects the European Union, and we want to enjoy the same respect.”

On May 17, Emmanuel Macron tries to clear up the misunderstanding. He picks up his phone and call Volodymyr Zelensky to confirm that Ukraine’s application for membership of the European Union would indeed be studied during the European Council in June “on the basis of the opinion delivered by the European Commission”.

Alas, the damage is done. “Mr Macron’s speech was perceived by some in Ukraine as a kind of rejection of EU enlargementdeclares the ambassador of Ukraine in Paris, Vadym Omelchenko, contacted by The world May 19. It is important to clarify that we only want to talk about candidate status at this point. It would be a gesture of hope. We know that enlargement is a long road which we are ready to take.”

A disagreement about not “humiliating” Russia

This is not the only passage from the French president’s May 9 speech to have upset kyiv. The same day, Emmanuel Macron also invites “never give in to the temptation of humiliation or the spirit of revenge”. Understand: with regard to Russia. Rebelote a month later, on June 3, this time in an interview given by Emmanuel Macron to the regional daily press. “We must not humiliate Russia so that, the day the fighting stops, we can build a way out through diplomatic channels”, repeats the head of state.

“Calls to avoid humiliating Russia can only humiliate France or any other country. Because it is Russia humiliating itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place .It will bring peace and save lives.”replied the head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba in a tweet.

Contacted by franceinfo, Alexander Query, French journalist based in kyiv, member of the editorial staff of the Ukrainian newspaper Kviv Independentalso mentions “an absolutely inaudible speech, today in Ukraine”, “quite simply because in view of the processions of atrocities and horrors that Russian soldiers are inflicting today on Ukrainians and Ukrainians, not to humiliate Russia is a speech that is absolutely incomprehensible to Ukrainians.”

The sentence, considered more than unfortunate by many, including within European diplomacy, recalls that Emmanuel Macron had already offended the Ukrainians in mid-April by refusing to use the word “genocide” to qualify the Russian invasion, as US President Joe Biden had just done. “You have to be careful with the terms today because they are brotherly peoples”was at the time justified the tenant of the Elysée.

Wednesday June 15, it is from the tarmac of the NATO base in Romania, in Constanta, that Emmanuel Macron explains himself again in rappellant “clarity” of the French position of support for Ukraine, “without any kindness” towards Moscow.

“From day one, France was clear that Russia was the aggressor and that it was waging a war against Ukraine and its people and did not respect the territorial integrity or the sovereignty of Ukraine. We condemned it with great firmness in all international bodies.”

Emmanuel Macron

during an official visit to Romania, 15 June 2022

Repeated calls with Vladimir Putin that go wrong

Emmanuel Macron’s phone calls to Vladimir Poutine, and the staging that sometimes goes with it (photos with a serious air, a three-day beard, in a sweatshirt rather than a suit and tie, etc.) have the ability to annoy some Ukrainians. Starting with the first of them: Volodymyr Zelensky.

In an interview granted on May 12 to the Italian television channel Rai 1, the Ukrainian president takes offense at the French president’s attempts at dialogue with his Russian counterpart. “Macron does not need to make diplomatic concessionshe regretted. We must not look for a way out for Russia, and Macron is doing it in vain. (…) I know he wanted to get results in the mediation between Russia and Ukraine, but he didn’t get any.”

Emmanuel Macron in the golden salon of the Elysée, March 6, 2021. (SOAZIG DE LA MOISSONNIERE / INSTAGRAM)

This is how the French president has since inherited a neologism: “macroner” (“macronete” in Ukrainian). Translation : “Fpretend to be very worried about a certain situation, show it to everyone, but do nothing in substance”, we read here and there in the Ukrainian press (in Ukrainian).

A visit to Ukraine that is slow to arrive

After four months of war, the list of leaders who have already physically come to support Ukraine is long. thes British, Canadian and Portuguese prime ministers, the head of American diplomacy, the Polish president and those of the Baltic countries, the president of the European Council, the president of the European Commission… And Emmanuel Macron? Still not, in mid-June, and this while the French president has held the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union since the beginning of January.

It is however not the calls of the foot which miss. At the end of May, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba reminded him for the umpteenth time he was “welcome, no matter when.” And to add: “It would be good for Emmanuel Macron to come during the French presidency of the EU” which ends on June 30.

“I don’t think it’s too late for him to go there, considers with franceinfo the diplomat Michel Duclos, special adviser at the Institut Montaigne, and who just wrote a note on this topic. But he really should go there quickly. He needs to clarify things. A trip to Kyiv would dispel many doubts.”

So far, thehe head of the French state always responds : “In due time, under the right conditions, I will make this trip.” Maybe in the next few hours? Lhe Head of State is indeed in the region, Tuesday in Moldova and Wednesday in Romania. Contacted by franceinfo on Wednesday afternoon, the entourage of the Head of State confirms: “The president said he would go to Ukraine so he will go.”

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