Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has criticized French president Emmanuel Macron for negotiating with Vladimir Putin, who he likened to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot, as global condemnation poured over the mass killings in Ukraine’s Bucha.
“Mr President Macron, how many times have you negotiated with Putin, what have you achieved?” Mr Morawiecki asked the French leader at a press briefing on Monday.
“Have you stopped any of the actions that have taken place?”
He went on to compare Mr Putin to the despots, under whose regimes repression and mass killings had taken place.
“Criminals are not negotiated with, criminals must be fought. Nobody negotiated with Hitler. You would negotiate with Hitler, with Stalin, with Pol Pot afterwards?” Mr Morawiecki said.
The scathing rebuke of the French leader comes as Poland has grown frustrated over Europe’s inaction in enforcing stronger sanctions against Moscow and embargoes on energy exports.
Mr Macron has held talks with Mr Putin at least 16 times since December, as growing evidence mounts of war crimes being committed in several Ukrainian cities.
A grim example of the evidence for war crimes has come from Bucha, a town near capital Kyiv, where Ukrainian officials claimed to have found almost 410 dead bodies, many of which had signs of torture, scattered in the streets.
The Independent reported how bodies and charred skeletons were left on the streets, with bodies of civilians also left inside their homes.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who has survived multiple assassination attempts, visited Bucha in his first trip outside the capital soon after reports of the killings emerged.
“We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with severed limbs, raped women and murdered children… dead people have been found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured,” he said.
The grisly scenes of battered or burned bodies left out in the open or hastily buried drew international attention and shocked world leaders who are calling for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin which has rubbished the allegations and called them a fabrication.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said on Monday that the situation in the Ukrainian town a “fake attack” aimed at undermining Moscow.
Responding to the Polish leader’s statements, Mr Macron’s office said communication with Russia is necessary to make Mr Putin understand western countries’ demands and the cost for Russia of disregarding them.
“From the onset, the president has used all available means to make Putin stop the war: massive sanctions, support to Ukraine, demands made directly to President Putin during their calls,” a French presidential official said.
In the past, Elysée officials have issued scathing readouts of the negotiation calls, saying Mr Putin had appeared “paranoid” in these calls and that he had lied to the French president.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.