Ukraine has ‘total trust, transparency, and support from France’: Prof. Arjakovsky

TVP World’s correspondent in Paris, Stanisław Jeglinski, conducted an interview with Professor Antoine Arjakovsky, a French historian, about the French policy toward the war in Ukraine.

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President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Kyiv has been long-awaited. Prof Arjakovsky says that in France, Macron’s decision to finally meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in person met with a very positive reaction, and from the Ukrainian side, President Zelenskyy said he was happy with the visit. The two leaders also had a chance to smooth out some misunderstandings, such as Macron’s word about the need “not to humiliate Russia”. The French President said that he was referring to the future, once Ukraine wins the war.

He said he and other leaders of western Europe would not press for Ukraine to make territorial concessions to Russia. According to Prof Arjakovsky, “there is total trust, transparency and support from France and from the EU,” as France is currently presiding over the Council of Europe, and as such President Macron also spoke as the chairman of that body.

Mr Macron also said that he does not wish for the war to drag on, and this was interpreted by some as France’s willingness to pressure Ukraine to give up parts of its territory, but Prof Arjakovsky understands it differently. He said that everybody wants the war to stop, that everybody realises this war is a threat to Europe and to the whole world, because of the threat of global famine. So what needs to be done is to help Ukraine win the war as soon as possible.

Prof Arjakovsky points to a shift in French diplomacy, which has for a long time been oriented towards Russia as a big player, with a seat in the UN Security Council and a nuclear arsenal. But this is now beginning to change, in part because of the reaction of countries such as Poland and the Baltic States, who are saying they do not understand the French position. Moreover, the French people have also been pushing for greater support for Ukraine.

Prof Arjakovsky’s family has roots in Russia, but also in Ukraine and Belarus, and the Professor has lived and worked in Lviv for a number of years. Asked about whether he thinks there is a chance that Russia can become a democratic state, he expressed hope it was possible, but the west must recognise that there are people in Russia that are in opposition to Putin and his regime, including those who have leadership potential. and that the West should focus their thinking on people like that, instead of the Kremlin dictator.