Polish president says calls with Putin ‘like speaking to Hitler’

Berlin: Polish President Andrzej Duda has slammed the leaders of France and Germany over their phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it was like having talks with Adolf Hitler during World War II, according to a report in the German mass-selling daily Bild.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Macron have both held one-on-one phone calls with Putin since Russia launched a devastating invasion of Ukraine, with Macron in particular stirring Ukrainian ire by saying Russia must not be “humiliated” so as to preserve chances of a diplomatic solution.

Polish President Andrzej Duda.Credit:AP

Duda, in an interview with Bild first released on its YouTube channel late on Wednesday (Thursday AEST), said such discussions only legitimised an illegal war in Ukraine.

“Did anyone speak like this with Adolf Hitler during World War II?” Duda said. “Did anyone say that Adolf Hitler must save face? That we should proceed in such a way that it is not humiliating for Adolf Hitler? I have not heard such voices.”

The conflict in Ukraine, described by Moscow as a “special military operation” to stamp out perceived threats to its security, has flattened cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 7 million people to flee the country.

Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia is waging an unprovoked war to grab territory.

In a joint call with Putin on May 28, Scholz and Macron urged him to release the 2500 Ukrainian fighters captured at Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant and to speak directly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to Macron’s office.

Soldiers manoeuvre a tank near Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine, on June 08.Credit:Getty Images

Italy and Hungary have urged the European Union to call explicitly for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks with Russia, putting themselves at odds with other member states like Poland determined to take a hard line with Moscow

Last month, Zelensky shot down suggestions by some in the West that Kyiv give up territory and make concessions to end the war, saying the idea smacked of attempts to appease Nazi Germany in 1938 in the run-up to WWII.

On Thursday he urged global leaders to revive the unity showed during the pandemic and coordinate efforts to deter Putin.

“Weapons and sanctions are also a vaccine against COVID-22, which was brought by Russia,” Zelensky told a TIME100 Gala event via video-link.

Fighting continued to rage on the streets of Sievierodonetsk in the east of Ukraine on Thursday, the Ukrainian General Staff said.

The regional governor said Russian forces were destroying “everything that can be used for defence”.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russia was shelling areas of the city that are still controlled by Ukraine but that Ukrainian forces would be able to “clean up” in the city once they received long-range artillery.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach will travel to Ukraine on Thursday to coordinate assistance on the ground for people wounded in the war, including those with severe burns.

Reuters

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