Putin and Macron look to peace plan in Ukraine crisis

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French President Emmanuel Macron (l) traveled to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. © Thibault Camus/Pool AP/dpa

Russian President Putin and his French colleague Macron struggled until late in the evening to find a way out of the Ukraine crisis. Both talk about the implementation of the existing peace plan.

Moscow – At a meeting with his French colleague Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Ukraine to implement the peace plan for the Donbass crisis area.

The Minsk agreements have so far been ignored by the Ukrainian leadership, Putin said after a good five-hour talks with Macron in Moscow. A dialogue between Kiev and the leadership of the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk is necessary. “From my point of view, it is obvious that the current authorities in Kiev are on course to dismantle the Minsk agreements,” Putin said.

The Kremlin chief also accused Kiev of human rights abuses, including the repression of native Russian speakers, a ban on the media and crackdown on opposition figures. Putin asked Macron to address these issues at his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev this Tuesday. Macron will then travel to Berlin for talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who will then be back from the USA. France currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Macron is confident

After the consultation, Macron was convinced that a diplomatic solution to the current tensions in Europe was possible. The peace plan for the Donbass must be implemented “strictly and completely”. This also requires steps from Ukraine. The conflict must be resolved so that the European Union and Russia can improve their relations. “Our duty is to keep working together.”

Putin criticized the West for using the tensions in Ukraine for an anti-Russian policy. Russia is being criticized for moving its troops on its own territory, while the Ukrainian army is being financed and supplied with weapons from abroad, the Kremlin chief said. The 69-year-old once again campaigned for a new policy in Europe in which the security of one country would not be implemented at the expense of another.

Macron replied that innovative solutions for “concrete security guarantees” for Europe could be created on the basis of existing agreements. Despite different perspectives and interpretations of the past, there are overlaps between Russia and France, for example when creating transparency about the presence of troops and weapon systems.

Putin criticizes NATO

Putin has recently repeatedly warned against Ukraine’s admission to NATO and does not want to accept such a development without resistance. He again warned of the danger of a war between Russia and NATO if Ukraine, as a member of the alliance, tries to use force to take back the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014. “There will be no winners,” he said.

Putin denied that the alliance is a peaceful defense alliance. He cited the NATO operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and against Belgrade as examples. Specifically, Putin also criticized the fact that NATO portrayed Russia as a threat and opponent. The Kremlin had stressed that Russia was not threatening anyone.

The French President pointed to the need to find concrete steps to de-escalate in the coming weeks, in coordination with Ukraine, the EU and the US. The consultations, including in the Normandy format with representatives of Russia and Ukraine under Franco-German moderation, would continue. “We are aware of the seriousness of the situation,” said Macron.

There are international fears that Russia is planning an invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The Kremlin denies such plans. It is also considered possible that the Russian side wants to stir up fears in order to persuade NATO to make concessions on demands for new security guarantees. dpa


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