Macron: Russia is ‘mafia state’ for working with Wagner group
French president says Moscow and Europe must find ‘imperfect balance’ in long run.
MUNICH — French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called out Vladimir Putin for telling him last year that the paramilitary Wagner Group had nothing to do with Russia.
“A year ago I spoke to Putin and he assured me Russia had nothing to do with the Wagner Group,” he told an audience at the Munich Security Conference. “I accepted that. Today we see the Wagner Group is involved in Russia’s war against Ukraine. It means Russia is simply a mafia state.”
Macron’s speech comes as country leaders and security officials gathered for a three-day event in the Bavarian capital, a conference dominated by the West’s efforts to align on how to support Kyiv against the Russian invasion.
The French president said the time isn’t right for dialogue with Russia and called on Western states to “intensify” their backing of a Ukrainian counter-offensive. But he suggested that — when negotiations would end the war on terms acceptable to Kyiv — Europe and Russia should “create an imperfect balance” on the Continent.
“It’s time for a transition,” Macron said, suggesting Russia and its adversaries will need to agree on a new regional security architecture, calling it an “imperfect balance.”
But he emphasized the time isn’t right for negotiations, noting it’s “too early” to formulate such a Europe-Russia understanding.
The comments reflect Macron’s long-held view that security guarantees for Russia are an “essential” component of any peace talks. Moscow has to be satisfied with how the war ends, or else any deal would be no more than a cease-fire and not a treaty, he argues.
Laura Kayali contributed reporting.