DOHA, Qatar — France’s top diplomat is warning that the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is becoming a “second Aleppo,” the Syrian commercial capital that in 2016 saw widespread Russian-backed destruction.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tells the Doha Forum, a policy conference in Qatar, that Russia’s “siege warfare” against Ukrainian cities should induce “collective guilt.”
“Civilian populations are slaughtered, annihilated, the suffering is horrible,” says a visibly angry Le Drian.
When asked whether he agrees with US President Joe Biden’s remark in Warsaw that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power, he says only that diplomacy with both sides remained a French priority.
Le Drian says French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to avert the worst in Ukraine through talks with both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents. A ceasefire remains the most pressing task, he adds, so that parties can move onto thornier topics, such as Ukraine’s security guarantees and a possible neutral military status.
Le Drian says the world is “at a tipping point,” as the war continues to spiral, adding, “This is a crisis that affects us all.”