Zelenskyy: Macron asked Ukraine to make concessions to help Putin save face

French President Emmanuel Macron asked Ukraine to make concessions on its sovereignty to help Russian leader Vladimir Putin save face, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

In an interview with Italian TV channel RAI’s Porta a Porta talk show broadcast Thursday evening, Zelenskyy was asked about Macron’s comments on Monday, in which he warned Europe must avoid humiliating Putin.

“We want the Russian army to leave our land — we aren’t on Russian soil,” Zelenskyy replied. “We won’t help Putin save face by paying with our territory. That would be unjust.” Zelenskyy added that Ukraine would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Macron was looking “in vain” for “a way out for Russia,” Zelenskyy said.

The Elysée rejected Zelenskyy’s allegations. “The president of the Republic has never discussed anything with Vladimir Putin without the agreement of President Zelenskyy and has never asked President Zelenskyy for any concession. He has always said that it was up to the Ukrainians to decide the terms of their negotiations with the Russians,” an Elysée official said Friday.

In a speech at the closing ceremony of the Conference on the Future of Europe on Monday, Macron said Europe must “never give in to the temptation of humiliation, nor the spirit of revenge,” when it came to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The French president also said “when peace returns to European soil, we will need to build new security balances.” The reference has been read as an indication that Macron was still seeking to reach a compromise with Putin.

Giorgio Leali contributed reporting.