Macron wants to explore de-escalation with Putin

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French President Emmanuel Macron at an event at the Elysee Palace in Paris. © Ludovic Marin/AFP POOL/dpa

Diplomatic efforts in the Ukraine conflict continue. French President Macron wants to propose a de-escalation path during a phone call with his Russian colleague Putin.

Paris – French President Emmanuel Macron wants to propose to his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin a way of de-escalating the conflict with Ukraine.

Today the two heads of state want to talk on the phone. Macron also sees the conversation as an opportunity to see exactly where you stand in the current situation. He is also hoping for clarifications from the Russian side on some points. From Élysée circles it was also said that Macron wanted to emphasize again in the phone call that an invasion of Russian troops into neighboring Ukraine would have serious consequences.

USA submits application to UN

At the request of the USA, the UN Security Council will also deal with the current crisis for the first time. The United States requested a meeting of the most powerful UN body on Monday, the US mission said. The deliberations in New York are to be held in public, probably at 4:00 p.m. CET. “As we continue our relentless pursuit of diplomacy to de-escalate tensions in the face of this grave threat to European and global peace and security, the UN Security Council is a crucial venue for diplomacy,” the US mission said.

US President Joe Biden again pledged Washington’s support to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The United States is committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Biden said after a White House statement. The US government is also examining additional financial aid for Kiev because of the Russian pressure, Biden said in a conversation with Zelenskyj. Biden said the US and its allies were ready to respond decisively if Russia attacked Ukraine. At the same time, the US President also emphasized his support for the Normandy format talks.

Most recently, Western countries have repeatedly expressed concern that Russian troops might be planning to invade the neighboring country. Russia denied this. The Ukraine conflict has been going on since 2014. A peace plan for the Donbass crisis area, which was negotiated with the help of Germany and France, is on hold.

Hope the talks will continue

Only on Wednesday there was a meeting in the so-called Normandy format in Paris, which included mediators from France and Germany in addition to Ukraine and Russia. According to the German statement, however, there were no substantial advances. However, hopes are placed on a continuation of the talks.

“For our state, achieving a stable and unconditional ceasefire in Donbass is the top priority today,” said Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. Russia is already pinning hopes on the next meeting in the Normandy format in two weeks’ time in Berlin, as Foreign Ministry spokesman Zaitsev said: “We assume that we (…) will find solutions to the problems that have accumulated in seven years , and that the issue of the status of the Donbass region is finally being resolved.”

On Wednesday, NATO and the United States responded in writing to Moscow’s demands for guarantees of security in Europe. Neither NATO nor the United States showed any willingness to negotiate when Russia demanded commitments to end NATO’s eastward expansion. US Secretary of State Blinken referred to “core principles”, such as the free choice of alliances between states and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The Kremlin initially left the West in the dark about how Russia would react to the response from the US and NATO in the struggle for security guarantees. “We will not jump to conclusions,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. President Vladimir Putin has already read the US letter. But it takes “some time” to analyze the papers.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke of no “positive reaction to the main issue” of the Russian document. Nevertheless, Lavrov was ready to negotiate with a view to the US response: “There is a reaction in it that allows us to expect the start of serious talks, but on secondary issues.”

West sees Kremlin on the train

As expected, Moscow rebuffed the West with its core demand for an end to NATO’s eastward expansion. Nevertheless, there is an offer to continue talking about security issues. The West now sees the Kremlin on the train. Russia would therefore have to come to terms with the fact that NATO continues to expand.

Moscow sees its security threatened by the eastward expansion of NATO. In particular, the Kremlin wants to prevent Ukraine from being included in the western defense alliance. The US and NATO, in turn, suspect Russia of planning an invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The Kremlin rejects this. Parallel to the demands on the West, Moscow has massed troops on its own territory on the border with Ukraine.

In view of the escalating Ukraine conflict, the left-wing member of the Bundestag Klaus Ernst called for neutrality status for Ukraine. “In order to defuse the situation in the short term, the West must assure Russia that Ukraine will not be admitted to NATO,” Ernst told the editorial network Germany (RND). “It would be best if Ukraine got a status like Finland, that is, one Neutrality status.” dpa

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