EU meltdown: Macron accused of ‘destroying’ bloc unity as French leader defends Putin

The French leader said on Saturday that Western countries should avoid humiliating Russia in a bid to ensure diplomatic solutions to the war in Ukraine and restore geopolitical balances after it ends. But the move was blasted by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis who claimed Mr Macron’s comments risk jeopardising the unity and security of the European Union.

He told Politico: “It is certainly not fully understandable, what the French leaders have said.

“Talking of reintegrating Putinist Russia into the European security architecture poses significant risks to European security and unity. This threatens to create major challenges both for Europe and for European unity.

“To be honest, I cannot see how such proposals could be accepted by the majority of Eastern and Central European countries.

“In fact, it scares me that it will destroy the unity of the EU.”

Speaking to terminal newspapers on Saturday, the French President said: “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means.

He added he was “convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted in response: “Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.

“Because it is Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also offered a stark message: “The terrible consequences of this war can be stopped at any moment … if one person in Moscow simply gives the order,” he said, in an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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He added: “And the fact that there is still no such order is obviously a humiliation for the whole world.”

The Ukrainian leader appealed for more weapons to arrive faster, saying things could become very difficult for Ukraine if Russian forces broke through the front lines in Donbas, the eastern region where Sievierodonetsk is the main city not in Russian hands.

Mr Zelensky said on Monday that Russian forces had the numerical advantage in the battle for Sievierodonetsk, but that Ukraine’s forces had “every chance” of fighting back.

In its nightly update, the Ukrainian military said two civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Monday and that Russian forces had fired at more than 20 communities.

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Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Monday that Russian forces were also advancing towards Sloviansk, which lies about 85 km (53 miles) to the west of Sievierodonetsk.

In addition to artillery shelling, Russian forces conducted air strikes, using both planes and helicopters, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine’s general staff said on Tuesday.

Britain’s defence ministry said on Twitter on Tuesday that Russia’s broader plan likely continues to be to cut off the Sievierodonetsk area from both the north and the south.