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PARIS, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – Diplomatic efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron in response to the war in Ukraine were a failure and “very damaging” to Kiev, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO secretary general, said in a statement. interview published on Friday.
“It was not a success,” Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who was one of the world’s foremost diplomats until he left the transatlantic defense alliance in 2014, told French magazine Le Point.
His comments come after criticism, especially in Eastern Europe, of how Macron kept an open line with Russian President Vladimir Putin with direct phone calls, even after the invasion of Ukraine, and warned against “humiliating” Russia.
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“At the beginning of the crisis, Macron surprised us with his, to say the least, unique and critical statement that Putin should not be humiliated and offered a way out. Such statements were disastrous and very damaging,” he added.
The French presidential office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rasmussen’s broad side, however, comes at a time when Macron is recalibrating his message and taking a firmer note against Moscow.
In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, the French leader reiterated his belief that world leaders should continue dialogue with Russia, adding that he would talk again with Putin in the coming days to address the security situation related to nuclear reactors. suits located in the war zones of Ukraine.
But according to observers, Macron’s UN speech, in which he accused Russia of a modern imperialism and urged developing countries to take sides against Moscow, marked a change in tone.
Macron stated that peace talks can only work if “Ukraine’s sovereignty is respected, its territory is liberated and its security is protected”.
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Rasmussen was not convinced.
“He has weakened international cohesion and I think he regrets that now and is trying to get the initiative back,” he said in the interview.
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Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Michel Rose; Editing by Toby Chopra
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