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Macron blasts Putin for rejecting Olympics truce

In World
May 23, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s rejection of a temporary “Olympic truce” shows he is “not ready to make peace” in Ukraine, French leader Emmanuel Macron told CNBC.

Macron and others have urged a temporary cease-fire during the Games held in Paris between July 26 and Aug. 11.

Both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have rejected this idea, however, with the Russian leader protesting the Olympic ban on Russia’s flag and his Ukrainian counterpart saying such a pause would only benefit Moscow on the battlefield.

“Every week until now, President Putin was claiming to be available for peace,” Macron said in an interview this week in Paris with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin. He did not discuss Zelenskyy’s rejection of the proposal, but said that Putin “is the one who decided to launch this war” and declining the truce shows the world “he is not ready to make peace.”

Macron called for the truce earlier this month alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was on a visit to France at the time. Xi has declared a “no limits” partnership with Putin despite claiming China is neutral when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine.

Macron said that an Olympic truce could be used as an opportunity to build both ties with China and a longer-term end to the war, whatever that may look like, a theme he reiterated in his interview.

“Look, a truce is not for me the endgame; sustainable peace is the endgame,” he said. “But I think it’s very important, this tradition, and it’s very important to use this window” during the Olympics.

“I think this is a very good opportunity, first diplomatically to engage with China and others and say, ‘OK, you are on the peace side. Get with us and help us to do so,’” he said. “And, second, to maximize the level of pressure on those who decided to launch a war,” he added, referring to Russia.

Macron has become increasingly hawkish on Russia in recent months, most notably refusing to rule out sending Western troops to the Ukrainian battlefield, in a pivot that has stoked fury from the Kremlin.

Asked about such a truce last week, Putin said the sentiment was “very right” but accused the International Olympic Committee of “violations” to its own principles by banning Russian athletes from competing under their country’s own flag or name.

In an interview with the AFP news agency, Zelenskyy said he was against “any truce that plays into the hands of the enemy.”

The concept of the Olympic truce — or Ekecheiria, meaning “holding of hands,” as it is known in the original Greek — dates back to the inaugural ancient Games in 776 B.C., according to the IOC. It was implemented as a way to allow athletes and spectators to travel between the often warring Greek city-states.

It was revived and formally adopted by the IOC in 1993 in response to the ongoing Balkan wars. In reality, it has been ignored at least three times since then — all involving Russia.

The Russia-Georgia War started during Beijing 2008. And Moscow’s 2014 occupation of Crimea happened during Russia’s own Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics, as did its full-scale invasion of Ukraine during Beijing 2022.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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