French President Emmanuel Macron believes “the worst is to come” in Ukraine after a 90-minute phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who appears intent on seizing “the whole” of the country, an aide to the French leader said.
“The expectation of the president is that the worst is to come, given what President Putin told him,” a senior aide to the French leader told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“There was nothing in what President Putin told us that should reassure us. He showed great determination to continue the operation,” the aide continued.
He added that Putin “wanted to seize control of the whole of Ukraine. He will, in his own words, carry out his operation to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine to the end.”
“You can understand the extent to which these words are shocking and unacceptable and the president told him that it was lies,” the aide said.
Macron also urged Putin to avoid civilian casualties and allow for humanitarian access.
“President Putin replied that he was in favour but without making any commitments,” the aide said, adding that Putin had denied that the Russian military was targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Macron will again push for extra sanctions on Russia to increase the cost of the invasion, the aide said while denying any open tensions between the two men.
“President Putin has a way of talking that is very neutral and very clinical. He sometimes shows signs of impatience, but fundamentally there were no open signs of tensions during the exchanges,” the aide said.