Minister backs down after ‘financial war’ on Russia comment
Bruno Le Maire clarified Paris is “not in a battle against the Russian people”
Bruno Le Maire, France’s minister of the economy, has backed down from his earlier declaration to “wage a total economic and financial war on Russia,” admitting the language he used was inappropriate.
Speaking to Franceinfo on Tuesday, Le Maire had initially hyped up his country’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, claiming Paris will “target the heart of the Russian system” and ensure the “Russian people will also pay the consequences” for President Vladimir Putin’s actions.
“The sanctions are effective, the economic and financial sanctions are even extremely effective,” Le Maire had said, claiming “Russian foreign exchange reserves are melting like snow in the sun,” as the “ruble has collapsed by 30%.”
Le Maire’s remarks sparked condemnation by Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former president. Responding on Twitter, Medvedev warned France that “economic wars quite often turned into real ones,” urging the minister to “watch your tongue” and the rhetoric he uses.
Hours later, Le Maire sought to clarify his remarks, telling French news agency AFP that he had initially misspoken and the use of the term ‘war’ was not an appropriate way to discuss his government’s response to the Ukraine conflict.
“We are not in a battle against the Russian people,” Le Maire told AFP on Tuesday, seeking to calm the tensions sparked by his initial interview. However, a tweet from Le Maire sharing his threat of “financial war on Russia” was still on the French minister’s Twitter account as of 3:30pm GMT.