BLITZER – And joining us now to discuss is the French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.
Does the French government agree with what President Biden said today — the White House later tried to walk back his words a bit — that Putin cannot remain in power?
PHILIPPE ETIENNE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES – Well, thank you, Wolf.
Let me speak on a personal note because I lived in Russia, I learned the language.
And what we see this horrible war started by Russia against Ukraine is not what I know from the Russian people.
French, like the other European countries, have supported politically and materially the investigation started by the International Criminal Court.
The priority, Wolf, now is to get to a ceasefire. And also to take the humanitarian actions as we try to do for the refugees, for the displaced persons, and also the besieged populations like in Mariupol.
And we have displayed a strong unity of the internal allies and the partners in the summit. And you have covered the summit in Brussels.
And there’s a strong unity to increase the pressure, to increase the price paid by Russia for its aggression and to increase its support to the Ukrainian people.
This is a priority to get to a ceasefire.
BLITZER – Well, let me ask you, do you agree with President Biden today? He called Putin a butcher. He said in recent days that he is a pure thug, a murderous dictator and a war criminal. Do you agree that Putin is all of that?
ETIENNE – Everybody is horrified by the constant bombing, shellings on Ukrainian cities.
As I told you, we have, as France, more than 30 countries, including the European Union members, we have decided to support materially and politically the action, the investigation launched by the International Criminal Court.
And we focus on action in a strong unity among us. And in close coordination with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on all possible efforts to get to the ceasefire, to get to the end of this atrocities.
BLITZER – Do you agree with President Biden that Russia should be removed from the G-20?
ETIENNE – We have been working in a strong unity among alliance and partners to isolate Russia. We have a new vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations. And in all international organizations, we raise the issue. We raise also the consequences of the aggression by Russia not only against or for the Ukrainian people, who are the first victims, but also for the whole community.
This aggression is a violation of the charter of the United Nations and also constitutes a great threat for all the vulnerable countries.
And we have raised this issue with international organizations of also food security. Food security now is a big, big challenge because of what the war started by Russia against Ukraine.
So, yes, we try to raise this issue in all international organizations to condemn this aggression and to use all effort to do this.
BLITZER – You are an excellent diplomat, but I’ll take your answer, Mr. Ambassador, as a yes.
Thank you so much for joining us. Ambassador Philippe Etienne, of France, we appreciate it very, very much.