Talking Europe – ‘Putin is also at war with his own people’: Top French MEP Nathalie Loiseau

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“We are not at war with the Russian people; we don’t want the Russian people to suffer.” So says the head of the European Parliament’s Security and Defence subcommittee Nathalie Loiseau, as the EU looks poised to impose fresh sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “It seems that Vladimir Putin is also at war with his own people,” the top French MEP told FRANCE 24.

The former French Europe minister described the Russian military attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as “completely irresponsible”.

Asked about Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky’s call for Western allies to enforce a no-fly zone over Russia, Loiseau explained why France does not support this idea: “We don’t want to be part of the war […] a no-fly zone would mean that we enter into the war.” She added that “NATO is a defensive alliance, we don’t wage wars”.

As an investigative team from the International Criminal Court travels to Ukraine to investigate alleged war crimes, the leading MEP said that “shooting at schools, hospitals amounts to war crimes” and that furthermore “it seems that Vladimir Putin is also at war with his own people. He is arresting protesters who are against the war, he’s closing Russian media, he is preventing Russians from leaving the country because they don’t want to serve as soldiers in the war. It’s not only Ukraine but also the Russian people that suffer a lot”.

Asked about the possibility of new EU sanctions, Loiseau told FRANCE 24 that measures could indeed be tightened: “[EU foreign policy chief] Josep Borrell is right in saying that we have not exhausted the list of sanctions that we can take; we can still take additional sanctions.”

Produced by Georgina Robertson, Sophie Samaille and Isabelle Romero.

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