PARIS — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy says “diplomacy, discussions and talks” are “the only ways” to resolve Russia’s war on Ukraine.
In an interview published in French daily Le Figaro on Wednesday, Sarkozy argued that Europe needs to “clarify its strategy” and seek a compromise with Russia rather than pursue its “strange idea” of funding a war without waging it.
“Without compromise, nothing will be possible and we run the risk that the situation will degenerate at any moment. This powder keg could have frightful consequences,” he said.
Sarkozy condemned Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine as “serious” and “a failure,” but insisted that Russia was “Europe’s neighbor.” And despite the misunderstandings in their shared history, “we need them and they need us,” he added.
In his interview, Sarkozy echoed views that were once common in diplomatic circles in France, where the emphasis was on the long history that binds France and Russia. But such views have lost a lot of currency since the start of the invasion, with more hawkish voices gaining influence in France.
French President Emmanuel Macron himself until shortly before the war dismissed warnings that Putin wanted to invade Ukraine, and held lengthy calls with the Russian president in the early weeks of the invasion to convince him to pull out. He has since embraced a harder line on Russia, and vowed to support Ukraine until victory.
Sarkozy distanced himself from Macron’s stance on Ukraine, saying that Macron’s earlier “intuition was right” but he failed to follow up, in part “due to pressure from eastern Europeans.”
Eastern European leaders in particular were harshly critical of Macron’s overtures to Moscow. In May last year, Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, slammed Macron’s decision to keep channels open with Putin and compared his attempts to negotiating with Hitler.
Sarkozy also dismissed Ukraine’s EU membership bid and compared it to Turkey’s doomed attempt to join the union. “We are selling fallacious promises that will not be held,” he said. He also cast doubts on whether Ukraine should seek to reconquer Crimea.