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Macron refuses to call Putin a dictator

French President Emmanuel Macron. / afp

The French president announced that “in the next few hours” he will speak again with his Russian counterpart to “try to stop this war without making war.”

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday refused to call his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a dictator, whom he is trying to convince to end the war in Ukraine. “It is not insulting or qualifying him that I will be more effective,” said the French head of state, who considered that “formally” Putin is not a dictator.

Macron’s prudence in qualifying Putin contrasts with that of his foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who has not hesitated to call the Kremlin strongman “cynical” and “dictator.”

Macron, who is running for re-election in April after almost five years in the Elysee Palace, announced that “in the next few hours” he will speak with Putin again to “try to stop this war without making war.”

The French president, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union this semester, warned Moscow that the European Union could approve even more sanctions against Russia than it has approved so far if Putin does not end the conflict. “Anything is possible in terms of sanctions,” Macron said. The objective of the sanctions is to “maximize the cost of this war for Russia and make it, at a given moment, decide to stop it,” explained the president.

Eight presidential candidates, of the twelve in total, participated this Monday in a special program on the TF1 television channel on the war in Ukraine and its economic and social consequences for France. There was no debate between them, but a succession of individual interviews, given the refusal of the outgoing president to debate with the rest of the candidates before the first round of the presidential elections, which will take place on April 10.

The extreme right-wingers Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour and the candidate of La France Insumisa, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, also did not want to use the term dictator to refer to Putin. Instead, the socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo and the environmentalist Yannick Jadot did.

“There has been too much complacency towards Putin” because of the dependence of many European countries on Russian oil and gas, said Jadot, who considered that the Russian president “has always been a dictator.”

“It is not being a warmonger to want to support the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians. What is at stake in Ukraine is democracy, freedom,” added the green candidate, whose party has a strong pacifist tradition. “As the Front Populaire should have done during the war in Spain (the Spanish Civil War), we would have had to arm the resistance (in Ukraine) because it is the fight of democracy against dictatorship,” Jadot said.

With less than a month to go before the first round of the presidential elections in France, the war in Ukraine has emerged as one of the central issues of the campaign, despite attempts by the extreme right that illegal immigration or insecurity citizens will focus the electoral debate.

All the candidates warned of the economic and social consequences that the Ukraine war will have on France and Europe. One of the issues that most worries them is the decrease in the purchasing power of the French in the face of a probable general increase in prices, from gasoline to food, as a consequence of the conflict.

If this Sunday the first round of the presidential elections were held in France, Macron would obtain 31% of the votes and Le Pen, 18%, according to the latest Ifop poll. Zemmour is in third place with 13% of voting intentions, followed by Mélenchon, with 11.5%, and Pécresse, with 11%. The ecologist Yannick Jadot would obtain 5% of support; the communist Fabien Roussel, 4.5%; and the socialist Anne Hidalgo, 2% of the votes. Only the two most voted candidates go to the second round.

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