By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 08 February 2022 • 13:44
Speaking at a joint press conference President Emmanuel Macron has said that talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin had helped to de-escalate the tensions in the Ukraine.
Macron who went to Russia with the intention of reducing tensions said that he never thought “for one second” that Mr Putin was prepared to make any gestures. Macron, who offered Russia “concrete security guarantees” in an effort to dissuade Russia from invading the Ukraine, will now travel to Kyiv.
Macron’s intervention comes during a week of intense Western diplomacy amid a major Russian military build-up on its south western frontier that has raised fears it could soon march into Ukraine.
Putin has apparently assured Macron that Russia would “do everything to find compromises that suit everyone”, and has further said that several proposals put forward by Mr Macron at talks yesterday could form a basis for moving forward on the crisis over Ukraine.
“A number of his ideas, proposals … are possible as a basis for further steps,” Mr Putin said after more than five hours of talks in the Kremlin.
He did not provide any details, but said the two leaders would speak by phone after Mr Macron meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Macron said: “President Putin assured me of his readiness to engage in this sense and his desire to maintain stability and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“There is no security for the Europeans if there is no security for Russia,” he added.
In news everyone wanted to hear, the French presidency said the proposals include an engagement from both sides not to take any new military action, the launching of a new strategic dialogue and efforts to revive the peace process in Kyiv’s conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Macron was the first top Western leader to meet Putin since the crisis began in December, the latter always having denied that Russia was acting aggressively towards Ukraine or the West, saying “it is not us who are moving towards NATO’s borders”.
If Ukraine joins the Western military bloc, Russia could get sucked into a conflict with European countries, he added.
“Do you want France to go to war with Russia?” Mr Putin said.
Putin has complained that NATO’s eastward expansion following the end of the Cold War has undermined Russia’s security, with the Ukraine having expressed a desire for closer ties with the West and for membership of the NATO military alliance.
Putin blames Ukrainian authorities for the continued conflict in the country’s east, home to pro-Russian breakaway enclaves which have previously seen fierce fighting between separatists and Ukrainian forces.
“Kyiv still rejects every opportunity for a peaceful restoration of its territorial integrity,” Mr Putin said.
US President Joe Biden had warned Mr Putin that he would “end” the controversial new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe if Moscow sends forces across the Ukrainian border as it did during the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
“If Russia invades, – that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine, again – then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2,” Mr Biden told a joint White House news conference.
“I promise you,” Mr Biden said, “We will bring an end to it.”
Biden’s declaration was the bluntest so far on the fate of the massive pipeline, which is complete but has yet to begin funnelling natural gas to Germany, tying Europe ever closer to Russia. But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was visiting Mr Biden, was less direct and said only that Berlin was “united” with Washington.
Scholz himself will be in Moscow and Kyiv next week for talks with Putin and Zelensky.
According to US officials, Moscow has assembled 110,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and is on track to amass a large enough force for a full-scale invasion by mid-February.
Russia insists it has no plans to attack and has instead put forward its own demands for security guarantees, something that Macron has provided and which it is understood has helped to de-escalate tensions in the Ukraine – for now at least.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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