French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday lashed out at what he called the “hypocrisy” of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, blasting his “unbearable” proposal to establish humanitarian corridors for evacuating civilians towards Russia as showing “moral and political cynicism.”
“I don't know that many Ukrainians want to take refuge in Russia. The humanitarian corridors towards Russia … it is hypocrisy … that I disapprove of,” a visibly agitated Macron told LCI News and TF1 in an interview.
He added that the announcement of creating a corridor to evacuate people to Russia was “hypocritical rhetoric.”
“It's not serious, it's moral and political cynicism,” he said.
Macron explained that he shared the view of relief groups working in conflict zones that “humanitarian corridors are not necessarily the solutions they prefer.”
“For them to be able to intervene in order to protect women, children, and men and evacuate them, there is a need for a complete truce,” he said.
He underlined that France is committed to the issues of civilian protection and will continue “to put diplomatic pressure so that this war stops as soon as possible.”
'Another way for Putin to push narrative'
Macron’s blunt stance came after the Kremlin's announcement on Monday that it has opened eight humanitarian corridors for civilians in Ukraine towards Russia as well as Belarus, two places Russian troops entered Ukraine from 12 days ago to launch war.
The Elysee rebuffed claims that Macron had called for the corridors in a Sunday phone call with Putin, saying instead that he had pleaded for a cease-fire and protection of civilians.
"It's another way for Putin to push his narrative and say that it is the Ukrainians who are the aggressors and they are the ones who offer asylum to everyone," officials with the French presidency said, according to a BFMTV report
Russia's war on Ukraine has been met with outrage from the international community, with the European Union, Britain, and US, among others, imposing a range of economic sanctions on Moscow.
At least 364 civilians have been killed and 759 others injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on its neighbor on Feb. 24, according to UN figures, with the real toll feared to be higher
More than 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.