Baltic politicians have slammed French and German leaders for discussing with Russian President Vladimir Putin how to unblock Ukrainian ports, pointing to differing views among Western allies on how to handle diplomacy with Moscow.
Eastern European leaders have expressed concern over their Western European counterparts’ willingness to speak with Putin, rekindling suspicions that some EU countries are pushing Kyiv to cede territory to end the war .
“It is amazing how the leaders of France and Germany are inadvertently paving the way for further acts of violence from Russia. . . How is it possible that neither Paris nor Berlin learned from history? Why is it assumed that Putin, who is currently waging a war against a great European people, intends to keep any promises? asked Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Estonian parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
Artis Pabriks, Latvian Deputy Prime Minister, said on Twitter: “It appears that there are a number of so-called Western leaders who possess an explicit need for self-humiliation in combination with a total detachment from political reality.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron had an 80-minute phone call with Putin on Saturday in which the Russian president told them that Moscow was willing to find ways to unblock grain exports from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea and could increase its own fertilizers and agriculture. exports if relevant sanctions are lifted.
It came two days after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also discussed the issue with Putin in a bid to ease a global food crisis that threatens developing countries in particular.
There is growing disagreement among many Eastern European countries and countries like Germany and France over the wisdom of talking to Putin as the war enters its fourth month. The Baltic countries believe that such phone calls only strengthen Putin and that Europe should send more weapons to Ukraine instead.
Over the past three days, hundreds of ordinary Lithuanians have funded 5 million euros to buy a Turkish military drone for Ukraine, according to internet broadcaster Laisves TV, which launched the fundraiser.
Mihkelson, citing a phrase Macron previously used to describe NATO, asked whether the French and German leaders were “brain dead” in their actions.
He added: “Macron and Scholz should hang up the phone and book a trip to Ukraine in a hurry. I hope their particular actions are not motivated by fear of losing influence in the democratic Europe that Ukraine would surely enter after winning the war.
Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania’s foreign minister, said on Sunday that Russia “must be isolated” as countries around the world including India, Australia, Japan, South Korea and “little Taiwan” , watched with anxiety what was happening in Ukraine. “Giving the occupier a chance to occupy a territory means it can be repeated elsewhere,” he added.
Putin, Scholz and Macron discussed the possibility of finding a negotiated solution to open up Odessa to allow grain exports to leave Ukraine, according to an Elysee briefing after the call.
The French and German leaders “took note of the Russian President’s promise to allow ships access to the port to export grain without it being used militarily by Russia – if the port was cleared of mines in advance”, according to the briefing.
Some Western capitals fear that the impending food crisis and its devastating impact on poor households in Africa and the Middle East could trigger a new wave of migration to Europe.