Polish President Andrzej Duda has sharply criticized the ongoing contacts between the leaders of France and Germany and Vladimir Putin, saying the conversations serve only to legitimize the Russian leader.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have spoken to Putin several times since Russia invaded Ukraine, both separately and together, in attempts to nudge him toward ending the war.
Duda was quoted Thursday as telling Germany’s Bild newspaper that he’s “astonished” by the calls.
“Did anyone speak like this with Adolf Hitler during World War II?” Duda said.
“Did anyone say that Adolf Hitler must save face? That we should proceed in such a way that it is not humiliating for Adolf Hitler? I have not heard such voices,” he continued.
Duda argued that such conversations achieve nothing and “only bring about a legitimization of a person who is responsible for the crimes the Russian army is committing in Ukraine.”
The French president has insisted on keeping the diplomatic approach open, arguing that Russia must not be “humiliated” by the war in order to make it amenable to negotiations, and suggesting a diplomatic solution may still be possible — an approach that has enraged Ukrainians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized Macron’s remarks, reportedly saying earlier this week: “I do not really understand what is humiliating Russia. Are we talking about the fact that for eight years they have been killing Ukrainians?”
In a joint phone call held on May 28, Macron and Scholz urged Putin to hold “direct serious negotiations” with Zelensky.
During an 80-minute conversation with the Russian president, the two EU leaders “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops,” the German chancellor’s office says.
The German chancellor and the French president also “called on the Russian president to ensure an improvement in the humanitarian situation of the civilian population” in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Zelensky said Friday that Ukrainian forces were “holding on” in the flashpoint eastern city of Severodonetsk where intense street battles with Russian troops could determine the fate of the Donbas region.
As the battle surrounding the area intensifies, locals have been facing a tough decision: either stay and brave the shelling or flee and abandon their homes.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has said around 100 Ukrainian soldiers were being killed every day in frontline fighting and as many as 500 wounded.