Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday joined several other world leaders to wish French leader Emmanuel Macron for securing a second term as the country’s president, news agency AFP reported citing the Kremlin.
Putin’s congratulatory message comes despite France being a part of several sanctions that the European Union has slapped on Russia for the Ukraine war, which is now in its third month. Macron has expressed support for banning Russian oil and coal as part of a new round of sanctions against the Kremlin after the Bucha killings.
China’s President Xi Jinping also congratulated his French counterpart on his re-election, defeating far-right leader Marine Le Pen at the polls. Xi said he would “like to continue working with President Macron to maintain diplomatic relations based on independence, mutual understanding, foresight and mutual benefit,” AFP reported citing a readout from state broadcaster CCTV.
On February 24, when Russia launched its “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine, the French President had warned Moscow of an uncompromising response to its attack on its neighbour.
“We will respond without weakness to this act of war, with calm, determination and unity,” the French President said in his address to the nation on the day of invasion, calling Russia’s aggression “a turning point in Europe’s history”.
Macron is said to be engaging in heavy diplomatic lifting between the West and Russia since the beginning of the war. He is one of the prominent leaders of the West who has spoken to Putin on several occasions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Macron and Putin also spoke over the phone a few days before the war, on February 21, in a bid to avert the “biggest war after World War II”. In a separate call earlier in the day, Macron had also spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss possible ways to secure immediate de-escalation.
Later in March, when US President Joe Biden said that Putin “cannot remain in power” and called him a “butcher”, Macron cautioned Biden against a verbal “escalation” of the ongoing Ukraine war. The French President said that the West needs to be “factual” and do everything needed to ensure that the “situation does not get out of control”.
(With inputs from agencies)