The French president was visiting kyiv this Thursday, June 16. He was warmly received by President Zelensky, despite the differences between them in recent months. But the Ukrainians sometimes take a hard look at this French president, who delivers weapons to their soldiers but still speaks with their enemy. Report in Kyiv.
In the red bus which rushes slowly through the night from Warsaw to kyiv, all the seats are occupied by women and a few children. Husbands and brothers have all been at war, or in service since the general mobilization decreed by President Zelensky at the start of the Russian offensive. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine. If each of these women has chosen to endure a 19-hour journey, it is to join her family, who have remained in the country.
“My fiancé was injured in the Donbass. I’m going to see him at the hospital,” a young, long-haired redhead told me. During the stoppages, the scars of war jump out at them. Dressed in oversized military fatigues, a grandfather lights a cigarette. Next to it, a man in his forties sits on a concrete bench, his right arm crossed by steel pins. A war wounded who awaits his recovery before returning to the front. None move when the siren sounds, signaling an attack by missiles or Russian planes. Refugees from Poland do not seek shelter either. As if they too wanted to show their determination in the face of the invaders. The siren sounded again.
Emmanuel Macron, not Katarina’s favorite
“End of the alert” announces the loudspeaker of this small decrepit shopping center populated by stray dogs. On returning to kyiv, I tell Katarina, my neighbour, that Emmanuel Macron has beaten us by a couple of hours. Due to the lack of planes due to the Russian fighter, he arrived by train with the Romanian President, the Italian Prime Minister and the German Chancellor.
This may explain why the trains were supposedly full to come to the Ukrainian capital. The presidential convoy had to go quickly and smoothly. At the border post, Katarina had almost kissed me. She took me for an American, from a country that arms Ukraine without restraint. She was almost disappointed that I was French. Emmanuel Macron does not enthuse him. “I don’t know what he wants. He says he’s with us but he’s sparing Putin. It’s not clear.” she told me.
In kyiv, no small blue white red flag, nor European standard. It is true that this whirlwind visit was not announced in advance. Security Question. The city center is congested and workers in yellow vests are redoing the tar in front of the Tower Business Center.
We will win the war with the help of God, and President Joe Biden
There has been no alert since this morning. “People pay little attention to these support visits,” Irina, a lawyer from kyiv, whispers to me. “For them, Macron is vague. He often changes his mind and comes to Ukraine to win the sympathy of the French. But they prefer him to be the president of France, rather than the blonde lady, as they call her, who supports Putin” continues Irina.
Nothing escapes the Ukrainians, keen on the Instagram network, who know that without Western military aid, their army could not hold out against Russian artillery. They appreciated that Macron and Chancellor Scholz announced that they were in favor of Ukraine’s entry into Europe, and that France delivered six additional Caesar guns. But they add: “we will win the war with the help of God, and of President Joe Biden.”