‘Worst is yet to come,’ Macron concludes, after speaking with Putin
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – After a lengthy telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron concluded that “the worst is yet to come,” according to a senior French official.
The two leaders spoke for 90 minutes in a call held at Putin’s request, as Russian forces have become bogged down in Ukraine in the face of unexpected resistance, and the conflict enters its second week.
The discussion left Macron convinced that Putin remains bent on pursuing his initial objective—the conquest of Ukraine, in its entirety.
“Your country will pay dearly, because it will end up as an isolated country, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time,” Macron advised Putin—but to no avail.
Rather, as the French official explained, Putin’s response showed a “determination to continue the military operation,” which Putin says aims to “de-Nazify” Ukraine—i.e., to change its government—and pursue the conflict until “the end.”
Macron told Putin that he was making a “major mistake” and that he was “delusional.”.
“You are lying to yourself,” Macron said as he addressed the Russian president with unusually strong and frank words.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at least 227 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since the conflict began a week ago, and another 525 have been wounded. Ukrainian officials, however, give a much higher figure: over 2,000 civilian fatalities.
In addition, the conflict has created over one million refugees, according to the UNHCR. They are fleeing to all of Ukraine’s neighbors, except for Belarus, which is allied with Russia, and Russia itself, while lines at the border crossings stretch for miles. The massive dislocation represents the greatest European refugee crisis in 80 years—i.e., since World War II.
Kurds are, perhaps, reminded of their own refugee crisis that followed the cease-fire to the 1991 Gulf War, which US President George H. W. Bush called after merely 100 hours of a ground war in the mistaken beliefs that 1) Saddam Hussein’s forces had been decimated, and 2) the Iraqi dictator would be overthrown in a military coup.
Of course, neither assumption was correct. And as Saddam’s Republican Guards bore down on the Kurdistan Region, millions of people fled to the mountainous borders with Turkey and Iran, fearing Saddam would use chemical weapons against them.
Communications technology was very different then from what it is now. There was no internet or social media. It was the old-fashioned media—television—which made visible to the world the horrors of their plight.
Initially focused on a coup, the Bush administration turned a blind eye to that humanitarian disaster. James Baker, then-Secretary of State, recalled those days in a webinar hosted last year by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Representation in Washington.
As Baker explained, his long-time aide, Margaret Tutwiler, the then State Department Spokesperson, advised him that the US had to address the Kurdish humanitarian crisis.
So Baker flew to the Turkish-Iraqi border, saw the suffering mass of humanity, and turned the situation around, initiating the start of Operation Provide Comfort. That operation brought those who had fled down from their barren and frigid mountain refuge and paved the way for the development and evolution of the Kurdistan Region, as we know it today—a point made by President Masoud Barzani in the same webinar event marking the 30th anniversary of Provide Comfort.