Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for negotiating with Vladimir Putin, whom he likened to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot as the mass killings in Ukraine’s Bucha received global condemnation.
“Mr President Macron, how many times have you negotiated with Putin, what have you achieved?” Mr Morawiecki asked the French leader at a press conference on Monday.
“Did you stop any of the actions that took place?”
He went on to compare Mr Putin to the despots under whose regimes repression and mass killings took place.
“You don’t negotiate with criminals, criminals have to be fought. Nobody negotiated with Hitler. You would then negotiate with Hitler, with Stalin, with Pol Pot?” said Mr. Morawiecki.
The French leader’s scathing rebuke comes as Poland has grown increasingly frustrated with Europe’s inaction in enforcing tougher sanctions on Moscow and embargoes on energy exports.
Mr Macron has held talks with Mr Putin at least 16 times since December amid mounting evidence of war crimes in several Ukrainian cities.
A grim example of war crimes evidence comes from Bucha, a town near the capital Kyiv, where Ukrainian officials claim to have found nearly 410 bodies, many showing signs of torture, strewn on the streets.
The Independent reported bodies and charred skeletons being left in the streets, with the bodies of civilians also being left in their homes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a survivor of several assassination attempts, visited Bucha on his first trip outside of the capital shortly after reports of the killings emerged.
“We know of thousands of people who have been killed and tortured, with limbs severed, women raped and children murdered… Dead bodies were found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured,” he said.
The grisly scenes of battered or burned bodies left in the open or hastily buried drew international attention, shocking world leaders who are calling for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, which has dismissed the allegations and called them fake.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Monday the situation in the Ukrainian city was a “sham attack” aimed at undermining Moscow.
Responding to the Polish leader’s remarks, Mr Macron’s office said communication with Russia was necessary for Mr Putin to understand Western countries’ demands and the cost to Russia of disregarding them.
“From the start, the President has used all available means to get Putin to end the war: massive sanctions, support for Ukraine, direct demands on President Putin during their calls,” a French presidential official said.
In the past, Elysée officials have made damning claims about the negotiation calls, saying Mr Putin appeared “paranoid” in those calls and lied to the French president.
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