Russia must not be humiliated despite Putin's 'historic' mistake: Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron has sought to maintain dialogue with Russian leader Vladimir Putin since the attack on Ukraine. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron has said it is vital that Russia is not humiliated so that when the fighting stops in Ukraine, a diplomatic solution can be found.

He added that he believes Paris can play a mediating role to end the conflict.

Mr Macron has sought to maintain a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February.

His stance has been repeatedly criticised by some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe, as they see it as undermining efforts to pressure Mr Putin to the negotiating table.

"We must not humiliate Russia, so that the day when the fighting stops, we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means," Mr Macron said in an interview with regional newspapers published on Saturday (June 4).

"I am convinced that it is France's role to be a mediating power," he said.

Mr Macron has spoken with Mr Putin regularly since the invasion, as part of efforts to achieve a ceasefire and begin a credible negotiation between Kyiv and Moscow.

"I think, and I told him, that he is making a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history," Mr Macron said.

France has supported Ukraine militarily and financially, but until now, Mr Macron has not been to Kyiv to offer symbolic political support like other European Union leaders, something Ukraine has wanted him to do. Mr Macron has not ruled out going.

Paris sends offensive weapons, including Caesar howitzer cannon taken from French army stocks.

Mr Macron said he had asked weapons manufacturers to accelerate production.

Kyiv on Saturday criticised Mr Macron's comments. 

“Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media, urging Russia instead to be “put in its place”, to “bring peace and save lives”. 

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