‘Macron is right’ to want to avoid humiliating Russia, Le Pen and Mélenchon say

Jun 6, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron last week sparked a tsunami of criticism after reiterating his call on the international community to “avoid humiliating Russia” over Ukraine. But three days ahead of the first round of the French legislative elections, the French leader has won the unlikely backing of two of his fiercest political foes: far right leader Marine Le Pen and leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

In an interview with French broadcaster FranceInfo on Tuesday, Le Pen spoke a phrase rarely heard from her mouth: “The French president is right”. She was referring to Macron’s renewed call on the West to avoid humiliating Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin in a bid to offer Moscow a diplomatic way out of the war in Ukraine.

“The French president is right to try to find the means to stop this war through discussion, so that Ukraine regains its sovereignty, Russian troops leave Ukraine,” Le Pen said, who last month lost to Macron in the second round of the French presidential election. In a televised debate between the two final candidates, Macron shamed Le Pen over Russia, accusing her of being “dependent on Putin” due to loans granted to her party by a Russian bank. During her 2017 presidential run, Le Pen also accepted an invitation to meet Putin in Moscow.

During her time on air with FranceInfo, Le Pen also suggested that Ukraine’s criticism over Macron’s comment was off the mark. “I don’t understand why President [Volodomyr] Zelensky accuses him because he even says himself that the only way out of this is diplomacy”, she said, adding that “when you’re looking for a diplomatic exit, you try to avoid cutting off the communication channels”.

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Le Pen then went on to criticise Macron over the French government’s embargo on Russian oil and gas imports. It’s “a stupid and harmful sanction for the French people”, she said, noting that “the Russian oil we don’t buy will be sold to others“ anyway, and French energy prices will increase.

‘One day Russia will come back to the table’

Mélenchon, who hopes to score the prime minister post via the upcoming legislative elections, also lauded Macron’s stance on how to handle Putin.

“If, three weeks from now, I’m put in charge of taking care of this country together with him, it might be better if I don’t immediately provoke any incidents.“ He added that he didn’t think “the Ukrainians should talk to us like that“, since France “supports” Ukraine and is “providing it with arms”.

“If President Macron is talking with Mr. Putin, I think he’s right to do so,” he said, “because we must not let this man lock himself into a corner. But it would be naive to believe that by talking to him, we will make him leave Ukraine“.

Mélenchon said dialogue should be conditioned on the withdrawal of Russian forces, however.

“One day or another, Russia will come back to the table, but it will take 10 or 15 years”, he said, “because having broken everything, massacred people and committed war crimes, (…) is something irreversible in the minds” of Europeans.

“Ukraine must regain its sovereignty and Russian soldiers must leave Ukraine,” he said.

Last Friday, Macron again took a swipe at Le Pen and Mélenchon for what he referred to as their “projects of disorder” and “submission” to Russia.

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(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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