Ukraine’s foreign minister has criticised Emmanuel Macron after the French leader said Russia must not be “humiliated” over the invasion of its neighbour.
In an interview with a regional newspaper, Mr Macron said: “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means.”
He added that he was “convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power”.
The president’s comments come as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has passed its 100-day mark, with intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region.
In response to Mr Macron, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.”
He added: “We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place”.
Mr Macron has spoken to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin a number of times on the phone in an effort to encourage negotiations between the two sides.
In recent weeks, Russia has concentrated its forces on the industrial city of Severodonetsk in Luhansk, in one of the biggest ground battles of the war.
Before the war the city had a population of about 100,000 people.
Ukrainian forces say they have recaptured 20% of the territory they had lost and that these gains meant it was “not realistic” that the city would fall to Russian forces in the next two weeks.
Intense fighting has taken place with both sides claiming to have inflicted huge casualties in a battle that military experts say could determine which side has the momentum for a prolonged war of attrition in coming months.
Following its failure to capture Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, Russian forces refocused its efforts on the Donbas region in the east of the country.
Russia is close to capturing all of Luhansk, one of two southern Ukrainian regions that make up the swathe of land known as the Donbas.
It has also escalated attacks around Bakhmut, a city in Donetsk, the other province that makes up the Donbas, the Ukrainian military said.