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Macron warns of ‘escalation of rhetoric’ after Biden ‘genocide’ comment

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday declined to characterize the Russian military’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, saying that “an escalation of rhetoric” is harmful.

Macron said Wednesday that his goal is to “stop this war and rebuild peace” and not use rhetoric like “genocide” to escalate tensions with Russia. However, he called the Kremlin’s actions “war crimes,” following the trend of Western allies. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has used the term genocide before and praised President Biden as “a true world leader” for saying the same earlier this week.

“Calling things by their name is essential to stand up to evil,” Zelensky tweeted Tuesday.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry, called Macron’s comments “disappointing.”

“French President Emmanuel Macron’s unwillingness to recognize the genocide of Ukrainians after all the outspoken statements of Russian leadership and criminal actions of Russian military is disappointing,” Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

Macron justified his rejection of the term by saying that Ukrainians and Russians are “brothers,” but Nikolenko argued that “‘brotherly’ people do not kill children, does not shoot civilians, does not rape women, does not cripple elderly people and does not destroy the houses of another ‘brotherly’ people.”

Biden’s use of the term came after Russian missiles struck a train station in Ukraine where civilians were hiding, killing at least 57 people, including many children and women. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Biden’s words were unacceptable, according to Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Macron last spoke on the phone in March did not reach a diplomatic breakthrough. When Macron sat down with Putin face-to-face in February before the invasion, Putin reportedly assured him he would not escalate the Ukraine crisis.

Tags Biden Emmanuel Macron Joe Biden Macron President Biden Putin Russia-Ukraine conflict Volodymyr Zelensky

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