The Interview – Ukrainian FM Kuleba urges France to call atrocities in Ukraine a ‘genocide’

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In an interview with FRANCE 24, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged France and President Emmanuel Macron to call atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine a “genocide”. Macron earlier this week refused to use the term, a decision that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called “painful”. Kuleba welcomed the latest weapons deliveries from Kyiv’s international partners, especially from the US, but urged Germany to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons. The top diplomat also conceded that the future of the war will be decided “on the battleground” and not at the negotiating table.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Kyiv, Dmytro Kuleba said that Russia had carried out missile strikes on several cities, including the capital, overnight on Friday. He rejected the idea that this was in response to the sinking of the Moskva, Russia’s flagship missile cruiser in the Black Sea, saying that Russia did not need a reason since it has been waging war with Ukraine for weeks now.

He refused to formally confirm that the sinking of the Moskva was caused by a Ukrainian missile strike, but said Ukraine was “not afraid to hit targets which pose a threat”. Kuleba dismissed concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin needing to save face, saying that Putin “has to be defeated by all means: militarily, politically and economically”.

Kuleba said that the crimes committed by Russia in the southeastern port city of Mariupol were even worse than those seen in Bucha and that Russia was covering up evidence of its crimes through the use of mobile crematoriums.

Future of war will be decided ‘on the battleground’

The top diplomat admitted that these atrocities were “complicating” talks with Russia, saying the current ones had made “no progress”. He conceded that Putin is now focused on a military solution and that the future of the war will be decided “on the battleground” and not at the negotiating table.

The Ukrainian foreign minister said Ukraine was now seeing “more and more advanced weapons” delivered by the US. He especially welcomed the delivery of “NATO-standard artillery units” and urged other NATO members to follow suit and to deliver sophisticated weapons. He welcomed Germany’s historic decision to send weapons to Ukraine, but said “they can do much more”, urging the government to allow the supply of heavy weapons.

Kuleba welcomed the decision by France to bring back its embassy to Kyiv and asked for more weapons from Paris. He added that France gave him the impression that it would be in favour of an oil embargo on Russia at the EU level.

‘It’s time to change the French approach to Russia’

The Ukrainian foreign minister said that the policy of some European countries, which had claimed before the war that it was crucial to keep talking to Putin, had failed. “We ask Berlin and Paris to reconsider this policy. It’s time to take a firm stance against Putin and his country. It’s not the time to seek to please him. It’s time to change the French approach to Russia.”

When asked about this week’s spat between Presidents Zelensky and Macron over the use of the term “genocide” to describe events in Ukraine, Kuleba said it was “time” for France and its president to call what is happening a “genocide”. Macron earlier this week refused to use the term, a decision that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called “painful”. Kuleba said that “in the end, the atrocities being committed by Russia will qualify as genocide legally”. 

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