France in No Mood to Make Concessions to Russia, Presidency Says

 French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 10, 2022. (Reuters)
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 10, 2022. (Reuters)
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France in No Mood to Make Concessions to Russia, Presidency Says

 French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 10, 2022. (Reuters)
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 10, 2022. (Reuters)

France is unwilling to make concessions to Russia and wants Ukraine to win the war against Moscow's invading forces with its territorial integrity restored, a French presidential official said on Friday, as Paris seeks to assuage concerns over its stance in the conflict.

President Emmanuel Macron has been criticized by Ukraine and eastern European allies after published interviews on Saturday quoting him as saying it was vital not to "humiliate" Russia so that when the fighting ends there could be a diplomatic solution.

"As the president has said, we want a Ukrainian victory. We want Ukraine's territorial integrity to be restored," the official told reporters when asked about Macron's humiliation comments.

Macron has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly since the Feb. 24 invasion as part of efforts to achieve a ceasefire and begin a credible negotiation between Kyiv and Moscow, although he has had no tangible success to show for it.

"There is no spirit of concession towards Putin or Russia in what the president says, When he speaks to him directly, it is not compromise, but to say how we see things."

The official defended Macron's position repeating that there would have to be a negotiated solution to the war and arguing that the president's comments were not always fully considered. Paris, he said, was a key backer of sanctions and provided strong military support to Ukraine.

Some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe see Macron keeping a dialogue open with Putin as undermining efforts to push Putin to the negotiating table.

Amid the malaise, Macron will travel to Romania and Moldova on June 14-15 to show Paris' support for two of the countries most exposed to events in Ukraine.

France has about 500 soldiers on the ground and deployed a surface-to air- missile system as part of a NATO battle group it heads up in Romania. The official said Macron would visit his troops to underscore Paris' commitment to the alliance.

Macron has not been to Kyiv to offer symbolic political support as other EU leaders have and Ukraine has wanted him to. The presidential official did not rule out a Macron visit.



UK’s Nigel Farage Says the West Provoked Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine

 Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage delivers a speech at a hotel in Blackpool, northwestern England, on June 20, 2024, in the build-up to the UK general election on July 4. (AFP)
Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage delivers a speech at a hotel in Blackpool, northwestern England, on June 20, 2024, in the build-up to the UK general election on July 4. (AFP)
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UK’s Nigel Farage Says the West Provoked Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine

 Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage delivers a speech at a hotel in Blackpool, northwestern England, on June 20, 2024, in the build-up to the UK general election on July 4. (AFP)
Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage delivers a speech at a hotel in Blackpool, northwestern England, on June 20, 2024, in the build-up to the UK general election on July 4. (AFP)

Nigel Farage, the leader of Britain's right-wing Reform UK party, said the eastward of expansion of the European Union and NATO had provoked Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

The remarks, made in an interview with the BBC aired late on Friday, drew strong criticism across the British political spectrum ahead of a July 4 election in which Farage's party is predicted to win millions of votes.

Farage said he stood by comments made shortly after Moscow's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, when he posted on social media that the move was a "consequence of EU and NATO expansion". He said he had been predicting a war in Ukraine as early as 2014.

"It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union was giving this man a reason to his Russian people to say, 'They're coming for us again' and to go to war," Farage said in Friday's BBC interview.

"We provoked this war ... of course it's his (Putin's) fault - he's used what we've done as an excuse."

Russia casts its special military operation in Ukraine as part of a broader struggle with the West, which it says wants to bring Russia to its knees. Kyiv and the West reject this and accuse Russia of waging an illegal war of conquest.

Farage's decades of campaigning against Britain's membership of the EU and mass immigration has made him one of the country's most recognizable and divisive politicians.

His surprise entry into the election race has further hit Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's hopes of closing the center-left Labour Party's opinion poll lead.

Even though Reform is unlikely to win many seats in parliament, it could split the right-of-center vote across the country. The party held only one seat in the last parliament, which it gained when a Conservative lawmaker defected.

Farage's remarks on Ukraine drew immediate condemnation.

Sunak said Farage was "completely wrong", accusing him of appeasement that put Britain and its allies' security at risk. Labour's defense spokesman John Healey called Farage's comments disgraceful and labelled him a "Putin apologist".

Farage later posted on X: "Putin was wrong to invade a sovereign nation, and the EU was wrong to expand eastward. The sooner we realize this, the closer we will be to ending the war and delivering peace."