Macron warned he risks giving Putin ‘a licence to manipulate the world’

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The PM and French president - REUTERS
The PM and French president - REUTERS

Boris Johnson has warned Emmanuel Macron that a peace deal with Russia would cause “enduring instability” and give Vladimir Putin licence to manipulate the world.

The Prime Minister and the French president met at the G7 summit in Germany on Sunday after criticism of Mr Macron and his perceived desire to bring an early end to the conflict in Ukraine.

A Downing Street spokesman said that the two leaders had agreed that more support for Ukraine from Western leaders was needed, but that Mr Johnson had warned Mr Macron away from a negotiated settlement.

Mr Johnson and Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, believe any deal struck now would involve Ukraine ceding territory to Putin.

“The Prime Minister stressed any attempt to settle the conflict now will only cause enduring instability and give Putin licence to manipulate both sovereign countries and international markets in perpetuity,” a Downing Street spokesman said

“The leaders agreed to continue and enhance the close work between the UK and France on areas including defence and security.”

Mr Johnson and Mr Macron have agreed to hold an Anglo-French summit "sooner rather than later", modelled on the 2010 Lancaster House defence and security treaties.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman later added that the Prime Minister’s concern about support for a peace plan was largely directed at “the commentariat” rather than world leaders, but refused to say whether there was agreement between him and Mr Macron on that point.

“It’s not helpful to discuss the individual leaders and their views expressed in private,” the spokesman said. “I think what you will see in this G7 is that they are united in support for Ukraine.”

Mr Macron has previously been accused of offering too little support to Ukraine and criticised for maintaining an open dialogue with Putin during the conflict.

The French president has boasted of spending 100 hours on the phone to Putin, but the Elysee has denied that France is hoping to scale down support for Ukraine or negotiate a deal with Russia.

On Sunday, Mr Johnson heaped praise on Germany but was silent on France as he warned of “fatigue in populations and politicians”.

“I never believed in my lifetime that I would see a German chancellor stepping up in the way that Olaf Scholz has and sending weaponry to help the Ukrainians to protect themselves,” he said.

“He’s made huge, huge strides. We have four per cent of our gas comes from Russia – in  Germany, it's 40 per cent. They’re facing real, real pressures, they’re having to source energy from elsewhere. But they’re doing it. They’re making the effort. They’re making the sacrifice.”

Joe Biden and Olaf Scholz - Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Joe Biden and Olaf Scholz - Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

However, Mr Johnson said nothing about the French response to the conflict in what will be interpreted as a coded rebuke to Mr Macron.

Sources in the room for their meeting said it was “extremely cordial”.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday morning, Mr Johnson said: “Realistically, there is going to be fatigue in populations and politicians. I think the pressure is there and the anxiety is there, we’ve got to be honest about that.

“But the most incredible thing about the way the West has responded to the invasion of Ukraine by Putin has been the unity. Nato has been solid, the G7 has been solid and we continue to be solid.

“But in order to protect that unity, in order to make it work, we’ve got to have really, really honest discussions about the implications of what’s going on, the pressures that individual friends and partners are feeling, that populations are feeling – whether it’s on the costs of their energy or food or whatever.”