A French presidential official says that France is unwilling to make concessions to Russia and wants Ukraine to win the war against Moscow’s invading forces while restoring its territorial integrity.
The comments come when Paris wants to allay concerns about its stance in the conflict.
President Emmanuel Macron has been criticized by Ukraine and Eastern European allies after published interviews on Saturday in which he said it was vital not to “humiliate” Russia so there could be a diplomatic solution when the fighting ends.
“As the president has said, we want a Ukrainian victory. We want Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be restored,” the official told reporters on Saturday when asked about Macron’s demeaning comments.
Macron has met regularly with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the February 24 invasion as part of efforts to reach a ceasefire and start credible negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow. However, he has been unable to demonstrate tangible success.
“There is no spirit of concession to Putin or Russia in what the president says. Addressing him directly is not a compromise, but to say how we see things,” the official said.
The official said France is also standing by to help grant access to the port of Odesa, where some of Ukraine’s grain stocks are ready for export.
“We are at the disposal of the parties so that an operation can be set up that will allow access to the port of Odesa in complete safety,” the official said.
The official did not elaborate on what that aid would be.
The Black Sea, where Odesa is located, is crucial for transporting grain, oil, and petroleum products. The waters are shared by Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia.
Ukrainian government officials estimate that 20 million tons of grain cannot travel from what was the world’s fourth-largest exporter before the Russian invasion.
The official defended Macron’s position, saying there should be a negotiated solution to the war. He added that Paris was a major mainstay of sanctions and provided strong military support to Ukraine.
Some Eastern and Baltic partners in Europe see Macron’s keeping open a dialogue with Putin undermining efforts to push Putin to the negotiating table.
Macron will travel to Romania and Moldova on June 14-15 to show France’s support for two of the countries most exposed to events in Ukraine.
France has about 500 soldiers in Romania and deployed a surface-to-air missile system as part of a NATO battle group it leads there. The official said Macron would visit French troops to underline Paris’ commitment to the alliance.
Macron has not been in Kyiv to offer symbolic political support, as other EU leaders and Ukraine have wanted him to do. The presidential office did not rule out a visit from Macron.