Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has criticised France for the publication of a call between the presidents of the two countries that took place days before the start of the war in Ukraine.
Broadcaster France 2 released in a documentary that aired last week the details of the confidential call on February 20 between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
In the exchange, which finds Putin preparing for an ice hockey game, the Russian leader describes the 2014 Maidan protests that brought pro-Western leaders to power in Ukraine as a “bloody coup”. He also accuses Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of refusing to engage in dialogue with pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east.
“People were burned alive, it was a bloodbath,” Putin says, claiming that Zelenskyy is lying to Macron.
At one point, Macron is visibly irritated and tells Putin in a slightly raised voice: “I don’t know where your lawyer learned law,” as he criticises Russian views.
Despite the differences, Putin in principle agrees to a meeting with United States President Joe Biden in Geneva, which never materialised as Russia sent its troops into Ukraine four days later.
Commenting on the broadcasting of the conversation, Lavrov said on Wednesday “diplomatic etiquette does not provide for unilateral leaks of [such] recordings”.
He added that that Russia has nothing to be ashamed of.
“We, in principle, lead negotiations in such a way that we never have anything to be ashamed of. We always say what we think and are ready to answer for these words and explain our position,” he said during a trip to Vietnam.
The documentary also offers scenes rarely seen in public, including Macron holding a meeting in his bunker under the Elysee palace and working with his team in the presidential plane.
It also highlights European leaders’ coordination to support Ukraine and impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia and follows Macron with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in a train on their way to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, in June, where they pledged arms and backed Ukraine’s candidacy to join the European Union.