Ukraine’s foreign minister has criticized French President Emmanuel Macron after the latter said it was essential that Russia not be humiliated by its invasion.
Macron said it was important for President Vladimir Putin to have a way out of what he called a “fundamental error”.
But Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said allies should “be better focus on how to put an end to Russia” because it “humiliates itself”.
Macron has repeatedly spoken to Putin by phone in an attempt to broker a ceasefire and negotiate with Ukraine.
French attempts to maintain dialogue with the Kremlin leader contrast with the positions of the United States and Britain.
“Calls to avoid insulting Russia will only insult France and every other country that might make this demand,” Kuleba said in a tweet on Twitter.
Kyiv says that Russia should not obtain concessions on the territory of Ukraine, after the Russian invasion was condemned internationally as “brutal aggression”.
Earlier, Macron told French media that the Russian leader had “isolated himself”.
“I think, and I told him, that he made a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history,” he added.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has joined Macron, noting that Europe wants “some credible negotiations”.
Heavy fighting in Severodonetsk
The eastern city of Severodonetsk remains the epicenter of the fighting in Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces engage heavily with Russian tanks and infantry and come under heavy artillery bombardment.
Control of the city would result in the handover of the Luhansk region to Russian forces and their local separatist allies, who also control much of the neighboring Donetsk region.
Ukrainian regional governor Serhiy Hayday said his forces had recaptured about a fifth of Severodonetsk and could hold out.
“As soon as we have enough long-range Western weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will only flee.”
The United States plans to give Kyiv’s forces precision missile systems, so they can strike Russian sites from a longer range. Britain will also send them a number of large multiple missile batteries.
Lysichansk is located opposite Severdonetsk across the Seversky Donets River. Both cities are of strategic importance to Russia: Severodonetsk owns the giant Azot chemical plant, which produces nitrogen-based fertilizers, and Lysichansk has Ukraine’s second-largest oil refinery.
The fighting has now left most of Severodonetsk in ruins, but thousands of civilians are still sheltering in cellars there.
Governor Hayday said that Russian forces blew up the bridges over the river to prevent Ukraine from bringing in military reinforcements and delivering aid to civilians.
In other developments:
- The Russian military announced that it had shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane carrying weapons near the Black Sea port of Odessa
- Russia continued the heavy bombardment of Mykolaiv, a major port city at the entrances to Odessa.
- A large fire engulfed a wooden church in the Svyatohersk Lavra in the Donetsk region. Ukraine blamed the Russian bombing, which Russia denied, and blamed Ukrainian forces.
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