PARIS/KYIV (REUTERS) - Ukraine rebuked French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday (June 4) for saying it was important not to "humiliate" Russia, a position Ukrainian foreign minister Dmitro Kuleba said "can only humiliate France".
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 push 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," Macron said in an interview with regional newspapers published on Saturday.
"I am convinced that it is France's role to be a mediating power."
Kuleba responded on Twitter: "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."
Macron has spoken with Putin regularly since the invasion as part of efforts to achieve a ceasefire and begin a credible negotiation between Kyiv and Moscow, although he has had no tangible success to show for it.
"I think, and I told him (Putin), that he is making a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history," Macron said.
Asked about the mediation offer on national television, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said there was"no point in holding negotiations" with Russia until Ukraine had received new weapons from the West and pushed Russian forces back "as far as possible to the borders of Ukraine".
Russia now occupies about a fifth of Ukrainian territory.
Kyiv is receiving more powerful weapons from the West.
"Our armed forces are ready to use (the new weapons)... and then I think we can initiate a new round of talks from a strengthened position," David Arakhamia, Ukrainian lawmaker and a member of the negotiation team, said on Friday.
Among other things, the United States will give Ukraine precision HIMARS rocket systems allowing it to hit Russian positions from a longer range.
France has also supplied offensive weapons including Caesar howitzer canon taken from French army stocks. Macron said he had asked weapons manufacturers to accelerate production.