“Genocide”, Russia, EU … Macron-Zelensky, a relationship mode “I love you, not me”

Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, arrived in kyiv on Thursday, finally responding to repeated invitations from Volodymyr Zelensky. The symbol is strong and marks a new stage in the rocky relationship between the Ukrainian president and his French counterpart.

Those who love me ride the train, asked for the title of a film by Patrice Chéreau. And this Thursday morning, Ukrainian authorities are also expecting Emmanuel Macron to arrive in kyiv with diplomatic bags full of proofs of love.

This hope prompted Ukraine itself to lease twelve carriages carrying the French Head of State, accompanied by Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, and the President of the Italian Council, Mario Draghi, from the border into Poland to its capital. Because if the Russian invasion pushed Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky to maintain stable relations, it is an understatement to say that it has sometimes changed, despite the support shown by Paris for the cause of Ukraine. .

Russia’s links, arms delivery, Ukraine’s alliance with the European Union: several factors of conflict have actually put up exchanges between the two executives in recent months.

Emmanuel Macron was in no hurry

Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky have an entire day ahead to resolve these thorny issues. After visiting the martyr town of Irpin, they will meet for a five -party working meeting in which Romanian President Klaus Iohannis will be joined by French, Ukrainian as well as Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi. After a late lunch, everyone will still give a joint press conference at 2 p.m., before Emmanuel Macron joins the people of Kiev to get their pulse.

An overloaded agenda that seems to erase the memory of Emmanuel Macron’s reluctance to make the trip so far.

Since the start of the war, in the early morning of February 24, Volodymyr Zelensky has not stopped responding. Urbi and orbi invitations to visit him at his official residence at the Mariinsky Palace. With some success: thus, he had the opportunity to receive, among others, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the Canadian Justin Trudeau but also the American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and even Jill Biden, the president’s wife American, on May 8.

But so far there is no Emmanuel Macron in the universe. The last time the President of the Republic set foot on Ukrainian soil dates from February 8, after an express visit to Moscow. Only four months had passed, of course, but before the Russian aggression: in other words, a century had passed.

On March 15, on the sidelines of a meeting of Ukrainian refugees hosted in Maine-et-Loire, Emmanuel Macron discussed repeated requests from Volodymyr Zelensky. Assured that “he did not reject” the trip to kyiv, however, he immediately refused to stay.

“Right now, the conditions are not being met,” he said.

A request of inadmissibility that was even more shocking as in addition to managing Europe’s first military power, one of the continent’s main diplomatic faces and one of the pillars of the economy, Emmanuel Macron headed the Council of Union. European Union since January 1.

“Russian genocide” in Ukraine: whether Macron “hurt” Zelensky

Lost in thought? Despite Emmanuel Macron’s long stalemate on this trip to Ukrainian lands, he never forgot Volodymyr Zelensky, with whom he had always spoken since the beginning of the conflict. To be honest, if relationships are sometimes strained between two men, it’s because their ears are moaning.

The first argument between them erupted because of a third party. And not just anyone: the President of the United States. During a trip to Iowa on April 12, Joe Biden denounced a Russian “genocide” in Ukraine. The embarrassment of his French counterpart can be seen the next day, in front of the cameras in France 2. Emmanuel Macron stands out from this “addition of words”, reinterpreting the debate in more cautious terms.

“I would say that Russia is unilaterally waging a brutal war,” he was angry.

The angry response from Volodymyr Zelensky did not last long. On April 14, during a press conference held with his colleagues in the Baltic, the president responded.

“If true, such comments would be very damaging to us.”

A few days later, in a remarkable interview given by our antenna on April 20, he insisted again, taking the opportunity to slip a new call with his foot in the direction of his ally.

“I think Emmanuel Macron is speaking from a strictly legal point of view. And I really believe he will understand that it is genocide when he comes here,” he said.

Weapons, commitment to “good relations” between Paris and kyiv

During the same interview, Volodymyr Zelensky was careful to emphasize his “good relationship” with Emmanuel Macron, adding-in a very important statement this time between the two rounds of the French presidential election – that he doesn’t want to “lose them”.

It must be said that Ukraine has still been able to rely on at least logistical support from Paris, by sending defense equipment but also the recent CAESAR guns. But the war, a massive one that has engulfed people and equipment, is currently forcing kyiv to call for a change in this aid. And the question of arms delivery was also the center of negotiations on Thursday.

Burning European question

However, this is a completely different priority that should be at the top of the agenda: the European question. Ukraine thus formalized its application for merger with the European Union on 7 March. The initiative immediately revealed the difference in the individual positions.

On May 9, before the European Parliament, Emmanuel Macron apparently rejected any expedited means of access, posting Ukraine’s possible accession to the EU in “maybe a few decades” and suggested by instead of a registration with a “European political community”.

The proposal seemed like a sign of contempt in the eyes of kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky lamented: “We can’t stay at this always in uncertainty. It’s like a table where the whole family is invited but you’re not given a seat.”.

“When will they understand that blocking Ukraine from the European Union will harm the European Union itself?” he was thus outraged at one of his video messages to his compatriots.

Ukraine has asked France to stop “flirting” with Russia

Finally, the Ukrainian executive considered Paris to be more light on the diplomatic front. Worse, he accused France of guilty of squandering Vladimir Putin and of finding accommodation with Moscow, accusing him, among other things, of maintaining a telephone channel with Kremlin.

Emmanuel Macron – who wants to be a mediator between the fighters – in any case has always claimed to stand in a line on the ridge. On June 3, speaking to the regional daily press, he thus launched:

“We must not embarrass Russia so that the day the fighting stops, we can find a way out through diplomatic channels.”

Words in front of that the Ukrainian government focused. On June 4, on Twitter, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba exploded: “Calls to avoid embarrassing Russia can only embarrass France or any other country.”

Still in a video, Volodymyr Zelensky for his part reprimanded: “The catastrophic course of this conflict can be stopped if the powers of this world do not cooperate with Russia and really put pressure on it”.

This Thursday, Emmanuel Macron therefore has a whole lot of pressure to deal with: to eliminate all these disagreements and to provide peace in his relationship with Volodymyr Zelensky. But isn’t this link already badly damaged, and this visit too late? “It’s not too late at all,” Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Veretchouk said on the station’s platform where she welcomed the French president.

Robin Verner BFMTV journalist

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