Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused French President Emmanuel Macron of cutting ties with him, but left the door open to rekindling the relationship.
Before the war in Ukraine, Macron cast himself as a negotiator between the West and Russia — the French president traveled to Moscow weeks before Russia’s invasion in a last-ditch effort to de-escalate tensions.
Photos of Macron sitting at the opposite end of a long table in the Kremlin became a much-shared meme and an ominous foreboding of Putin’s unwillingness to negotiate.
On Thursday, in a Q&A with the press and public, a journalist from the French channel TF1 asked Putin about the current state of the two leaders’ relationship.
Putin said they had enjoyed a “quite good working relationship and we were ready to cooperate with France further” on bilateral and global issues.
But he added: “At some point the French president stopped the relationship with us. We didn’t do it, I didn’t. He did.”
“If there’s interest, we’re ready. If not, we’ll cope,” Putin said, adding: “We have other things to do.”
Earlier during the marathon Q&A session, Putin was more complimentary of Slovakia’s Robert Fico and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, whom he described as “not pro-Russian, but pro-national” leaders.
“The others all depend on the older brother,” Putin said, referring to the United States.