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EMMANUEL MACRON

Macron and Putin agree on ‘need for a de-escalation’ in Ukraine crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed on the need for a "de-escalation" in the Ukraine crisis during a call on Friday, with the Russian leader saying he had "no offensive plans", an aide to Macron said.

Macron and Putin agree on 'need for a de-escalation' in Ukraine crisis
A Ukrainian soldier keeps watch at a position on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists not far from Gorlivka, Donetsk region. Photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP

The two leaders spoke for more than an hour on Friday morning during a call that was described by the French side as “serious and respectful” which highlighted “fundamental differences” but also a “joint desire” to keep talking.

The conversation “enabled us to agree on the need for a de-escalation,” the aide said during a briefing with journalists.

France hosted more than eight hours of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Paris on Wednesday which were seen as a test of whether Putin wanted to lower tensions, having massed around 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.

“President Putin expressed no offensive plans and said he wanted to continue the talks with France and our allies,” the French official said on Friday, adding that the Russian leader “said very clearly that he did not want confrontation.”

Macron said earlier this week that Russia was behaving as a “power of disequilibrium” in the region but had also made clear he wanted to speak with Putin, whom he invited to France for talks during his summer holidays in 2019.

His relatively conciliatory tone has contrasted with the more strident rhetoric about the probability of a Russian invasion from France’s NATO allies the UK and United States.

“Now the ball is in Putin’s court,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio Friday before the phone call between the leaders. “Does he want to be the one to say that Russia is a power of disequilibrium, or is he ready to show de-escalation?” he asked.

“It’s up to Vladimir Putin to say if he wants confrontation or consultation. We are ready for consultation. But it still takes two to do it,” he said.

Le Drian said that there was “of course” still the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, warning that such a move would have “massive repercussions” for Moscow.

Later Friday, Macron also spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

The president reaffirmed “France’s full solidarity with Ukraine” and stressed the nation’s “determination to preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of this country, in a context of high volatility”, the Elysee said.

“The two presidents agreed to continue efforts in favour of de-escalation and dialogue,” it added.

Member comments

  1. All the same comments were made in the 30s when Germany invaded the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. Perhaps the next meeting could actually be held in Munich. Just waiting for the announcement of ‘Peace in our time’ and Putin to confirm ‘I have no more territorial claims in Europe’.

    1. Are you being serious or just being confrontational? At least France is doing something positive, which is more than can be said of your court jester. The only thing he is interested in is to “throw” more British troops onto the fire.

      1. France doesn’t represent NATO or the EU ( where there is no unified position ) and as a member of both cannot be a broker and can only demonstrate division. The British Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary are going to Moscow next week in Britain’s capacity as the UN appointed guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

          1. I doubt it. The Russian army is not very well equipped for conventional warfare and Trident could still turn Russia into a dustbowl if Putin’s mad enough to go nuclear.

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POLITICS

Macron: It will take decades for Ukraine to join EU

France's President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday it would take "decades" for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU - and called instead for a new European body to allow co-operation on issues like security and movement of people.

Macron: It will take decades for Ukraine to join EU

“Even if we gave them candidate status tomorrow,” he said of Ukraine, “we all know perfectly well that the process of allowing them to join would take several years, in truth doubtless several decades.”

But, noting the urgency of giving Ukraine and other EU hopefuls like Moldova and Georgia a place in the heart of Europe, he called for the creation of a “European political community”.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, in part to thwart Kyiv’s tilt towards integration with the EU and NATO, and Georgia and Moldova are also partly occupied by Moscow’s troops.

Just ahead of Macron’s speech, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted that the EU executive would give its “opinion” on Ukraine’s membership bid in June.   

But Macron, in a speech endorsing calls for a treaty change to further  strengthen the EU’s federal integration, said the bloc, “given its level of integration and ambition” could not be Europe’s only organising body.

“It is our historic obligation … to create what I would describe before you today as a European political community,” he said.

“This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations … to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people.”

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