Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) France’s President Emmanuel Macron has called for a de-escalation of war rhetoric following US President Joe Biden’s outburst about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin this weekend when commenting on the conflict in Ukraine.
Speaking in Warsaw on Saturday, Biden referred to Putin as a butcher, stressing that he “cannot remain in power”, as reported by RFI on Sunday.
Macron warned against escalating the rhetoric and said he would be talking to Putin this week to discuss the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol. Noting the need to achieve “first a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of [Russian] troops by diplomatic means”, Macron said this meant that “we can’t escalate either in words or actions.”
Attempts to set up evacuation corridors to allow civilians to flee Mariupol have failed, with each side accusing the other of violating ceasefire deals. Roughly 170,000 people remain in Mariupol.
Comments on Biden’s speech
After Biden’s Warsaw speech, the White House insisted that the President had not called for a regime change in Russia. The Kremlin responded to the speech by stating that “a head of state should stay sober.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declared that ad hominem attacks were “narrowing down the window of opportunity” for negotiations. Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the lower house of the Russian Parliament, said he believed Biden to be “weak, sick and unhappy.”
On Sunday, the Ukrainian General Staff issued an update that its forces had “repulsed seven attacks” as well as destroyed eight Russian tanks. The Ministry of Defence reported that Ukraine had recaptured Trostianets, one of the first towns on the border with Russia to fall.
Ukrainian authorities also noted that Russia forces had seized the town of Slavutych and briefly detained the mayor, and that when residents had protested, Russian forces responded by shooting in the air and dispersing the crowd with stun grenades.
On Saturday, Biden conferred with Ukrainian ministers, after his meetings in Brussels. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, pointed out later that the US no longer objects to a plan to transfer Polish fighter jets to Kiev, something the Pentagon had initially objected to, considering it too “high risk.”