Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has offered his French colleague to visit Ukraine to see for himself evidence that Russian soldiers committed “genocide,” which President Emmanuel Macron has prohibited.
“I simply told him that I want him to realize that this is not fighting, but genocide.” I asked him to come whenever he had the chance. He’ll come and see for himself, and I’m certain he’ll understand.”
Zelensky also said that he expected US Vice President Joe Biden to attend at some point, however White House officials have stated that there are no preparations for him to do so.
The Ukrainian president said he felt Macron was hesitant to use the word “genocide” — a term Biden has already used in reference to the Ukrainian conflict — because he believes it would jeopardize diplomatic ties with Russia.
Earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Macron’s rejection to adopt the title was “extremely painful for us.”
Macron is in the midst of an election campaign, with a run-off against far-right politician Marine Le Pen scheduled for next Sunday.
On Thursday, Macron told France’s Radio Bleu that it was not good to Ukraine to “engage in rhetorical escalation without drawing all of the consequences.”
“The term ‘genocide’ has a meaning” and “must be defined legally, not by politicians.”
In his CNN interview, Zelensky indicated that he would want to see Biden visit Ukraine as well.
A rising number of European politicians, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have made their way to Kyiv to offer aid.
After seeing the destroyed Ukrainian city of Bucha, where authorities believe dozens of people have been “in fact shot within the streets,” Johnson remarked that evidence of a massacre involving Russian soldiers “would not look ways short of genocide to me.”
Regarding a probable Biden visit, Zelensky added, “I believe he will” come, “but it’s his choice, of course, and the safety situation depends.”
“But I believe he is the leader of the United States, which is why he should come here.”
In an interview carried out Sunday on CBS, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hailed Biden’s support for his nation so far, saying a visit by the US president would be “a significant message of support.”
“A personal meeting between two presidents might potentially open the way for further supplies of… US weaponry to Ukraine, as well as conversations on the possibility of a diplomatic conclusion to this crisis,” he continued.
US officials said they are contemplating sending an envoy to Kyiv, but have ruled out a risky visit by the 79-year-old president himself for the time being.