WASHINGTON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has invited his French counterpart to visit Ukraine to see for himself evidence that Russian forces have committed “genocide,” a term President Emmanuel Macron has avoided.
“I talked to him yesterday. I just told him I want him to understand that this is not war, but nothing other than genocide. I invited him to come when he will have the opportunity. He’ll come and see, and I’m sure he will understand,” Zelensky told CNN in an interview recorded on Friday but broadcast on Sunday.
Zelensky said he also thought US President Joe Biden would come at some point, though White House officials have said there are no plans to do so.
The Ukrainian leader said he believed Macron was shying away from using the term “genocide” — a term Biden has now used regarding the war in Ukraine — because he thinks it would hurt the chances for diplomatic engagement with Russia.
The Ukrainian president said earlier that Macron’s refusal to use the designation was “very painful for us”. Macron is in the heat of an election campaign, with a second-round vote against far-right politician Marine Le Pen set for next Sunday.
He told France’s Radio Bleu on Thursday that it was not helpful to Ukraine “to enter into verbal escalations without drawing all of the conclusions. The word ‘genocide’ has a meaning” and “needs to be characterized legally, not by politicians”.