Ukraine's Zelenskiy says Macron wasting time in considering dialogue with Russia

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy leaves for Brussels
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PARIS (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an interview published on Sunday that the French leader Emmanuel Macron was wasting his time considering any sort of dialogue with Russia.

Zelenskiy, interviewed by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, was responding to a suggestion by Macron that Russia should be "defeated but not crushed" and that the conflict in Ukraine would have to be settled by negotiations.

The two presidents spoke by telephone on Sunday.

"It will be a useless dialogue. In fact Macron is wasting his time. I have come to the conclusion that we are not able to change the Russian attitude," Zelenskiy told the Italian daily.

"If they have decided to isolate themselves in the dream of rebuilding the old Soviet empire, we cannot do anything about it. It is up to them to choose or not to cooperate with the community of nations on the basis of mutual respect."

He rejected any suggestion that it was Western sanctions that had driven Russia President Vladimir Putin into isolation.

"It was instead the decision to launch the war that marginalised Putin," he was quoted as saying.

On Friday, Macron urged allies to step up military support for Ukraine.

He also said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche he did not believe in regime change, that there was little chance of a democratic solution from within Russian civil society and no alternative to bringing Putin back to the negotiating table.

Those comments prompted the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, to say that France should remember the 19th century defeat in Russia of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Macron has drawn criticism from some NATO allies for delivering mixed messages regarding his policy on the war between Ukraine and Russia.

In describing their conversation on Sunday, Zelenskiy made no mention of Macron's latest comments. The leaders discussed strategies, including joint decisions Zelenskiy said were due ahead of this week's first anniversary of Russia's invasion.

Before a brief visit to Paris this month, Zelenskiy said the French president's tougher stand on Russia in recent months showed had had undergone a significant change.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Gianluca Semeraro and Ron Popeski, Editing by Angus MacSwan, Diane Craft and Kim Coghill)