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Zelenskyy: French companies must ‘stop sponsoring the Russian war machine’

PARIS — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged French companies to quit Russia in an address to the French parliament on Wednesday.

“French companies must leave the Russian market … Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others must stop sponsoring the Russian war machine,” Zelenskyy, sporting his now trademark green T-shirt, told lawmakers from France’s two parliamentary chambers.

The French carmaker, supermarket group and DIY retailer, which have maintained or resumed their activities in Russia, are “financing the murder of children and women, and rape,” Zelenskyy said, adding: “Everyone must remember that values ​​are worth more than profits.”

Following speeches to the U.S. Congress, Germany’s Bundestag and Italy’s parliament, the Ukrainian leader also called on French MPs to agree tougher sanctions on Russia and to support Kyiv’s bid to join the European Union.

“Week after week, we do not see the [effects of the] sanctions,” Zelenskyy said, detailing atrocities that his government accuses Russian troops of committing, including the bombing of a maternity and children’s hospital in the southeastern city of Mariupol.

In an address just three weeks before the first round of voting in France’s presidential election, Zelenskyy told lawmakers that President Emmanuel Macron, who is favorite for re-election, had shown “true leadership.”

MPs, who are technically on leave, gave the Ukrainian leader a standing ovation. Many sported blue and yellow accessories in support of the Ukrainian people.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate who is running second in opinion polls, attended the event after she initially said she did not feel it was necessary for her to show her support for Zelenskyy. Her National Rally party has long-standing ties with Russia.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Nicolas Dupont-Aignant, two other presidential candidates accused of complacency toward Russia, also attended.

“Ukraine belongs to the European family,” said Gérard Larcher, president of the French Senate and a prominent conservative.

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