Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz distance themselves after Joe Biden’s remarks

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the NATO summit in Brussels on March 24, 2022.

Arms deliveries to Ukraine, NATO’s role in Central Europe, concerted sanctions and demonstration of unity, Joe Biden’s visit to Brussels and Warsaw had so far convinced Europeans of the United States’ re-engagement in the face of to Russia. But the short sentences improvised by the American president during his visit to Poland on Saturday March 26 put them in a certain embarrassment, as the war in Ukraine enters its second month.

On Sunday, Emmanuel Macron warned against “the escalation of words and actions”after his American counterpart called Vladimir Putin a ” Butcher “. “We must first be factual and do everything to prevent the situation from getting out of hand”declared the Head of State in an interview on France 3: “I will not use this kind of language because I continue to discuss with President Putin. » Gold, “we want to stop the war that Russia has launched in Ukraine, without waging war and without escalation”he continued, recalling the common position repeatedly hammered home by the European and American allies: support for Ukraine against Russia, without direct military intervention in the conflict.

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For his part, the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, questioned the possibility of a change of regime in Moscow, suggested by Joe Biden when he considered, at the very end of his Warsaw speech, that Vladimir Putin should not “not stay in power”. Words that the White House had tried to minimize during the day. Such a prospect “is not the objective of NATO nor that of the American president, assured the German Chancellor, Sunday evening, on the public channel ARD. Democracy, freedom and law have a future everywhere”observed the Social Democratic leader, before adding: “But it is up to peoples and nations to fight for this freedom. » Understood: no question of imposing it from the outside to overthrow the head of the Kremlin, despite his responsibility in this war.

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Dealing with humanitarian emergencies

The double response of the French and German leaders is all the more lively since both have sought, since the outbreak of the Russian invasion on February 24, to keep a channel of communication open with the Kremlin. Unlike Joe Biden, neither of them has ever publicly called the Russian president “war criminal”.

Emmanuel Macron was also to meet again, Monday or Tuesday, with Vladimir Putin. This will be their ninth conversation, including two with Mr. Scholz, since the outbreak of hostilities. The Head of State, who speaks at least every two days with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, is thus seeking to prepare the ground for a way out of the diplomatic crisis, in order “to first obtain a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of troops”.

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