Politicians from the Baltic states have strongly criticized a phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian leader Vladimir Putin to discuss the possibility of opening Ukrainian ports, writes the Financial Times.
Scholz and Macron held an 80-minute phone call with Putin on Saturday, in which the Russian president said Moscow was ready to explore ways of restoring grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports and boosting its own agricultural exports if some sanctions were lifted. A few days earlier, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had spoken to Putin on the same subject.
The Financial Times notes that politicians in Eastern Europe are uneasy about their Western European counterparts' willingness to talk to Putin, as it raises suspicions that some EU countries want to pressure Kyiv into giving up territory to end the war. The paper writes that the Baltic states believe such talks will only give Putin more power, and that Europe should instead increase its weapons supplies to Ukraine.
The Financial Times cites criticism from Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Estonian parliament.
"It is incredible how the leaders of France and Germany are inadvertently paving the way for new acts of violence by Russia. Macron and Scholz's 80-minute phone call with Putin today makes one paraphrase the former – is this not a case of being braindead?" Mihkelson wrote on social media on Saturday.
"How is it possible neither Paris nor Berlin have learned from history? Why are excuses being sought to hold back arms for Ukraine and why is it presumed that Putin, currently waging a war on a major European people, intends to keep any promise?" Mihkelson asked.
The Financial Times also quotes Kristi Raik, director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, as saying that Scholz and Macron risk giving legitimacy to "Putin's lies and unacceptable demands".
"I don't share the view that no Western leader should ever talk to Putin. But the way Macron and Scholz are doing it is not just unhelpful, it is deeply counterproductive," Raik said.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said Macron and Scholz had humiliated themselves by talking to Putin.
"It seems that there are number of so-called Western leaders who possess explicit need for self-humiliation in combination with total detachment from political reality," Pabriks wrote on Twitter.
It seems that there are number of so called Western leaders who possess explicit need for self humiliation in combination with total detachement from political reality.— Artis Pabriks (@Pabriks) May 29, 2022
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also said on Sunday that Russia must be isolated. "Giving the occupier a chance to occupy territory means that it can be repeated elsewhere," Landsbergis said.
Editor: Michael Cole