Ukrainian crisis, Macron phones Putin to negotiate a truce: “No to escalation”

from Stefano Montefiori

Atmosphere of renewed dialogue between Russia and Europe via Paris. The US and Great Britain remain convinced of an attack. Zelensky: “The West does not panic”

from our correspondent
PARIS – In the “serious and respectful” phone call between the presidents, according to Elysée sources, Putin told the French head of state that he considered him “the only one with whom one can have such a thorough discussion” and who therefore cared about this dialogue. A good diplomatic success for Macron, who tries to play his international role in full speaking more than ever on behalf of Europe, at the beginning of the French presidency of the EU Council.

Macron and Putin agreed to acknowledge the need to stop escalation, and to find a truce, the French president has declared himself ready to go to Moscow or Kiev. “Putin denied having offensive intentions,” reports the Elysée, on a day that saw the multiplication of relaxed statements, even if Putin reiterated that “the United States and NATO have not taken into account Russia’s fundamental concerns”. Moscow continues to ask, as it has done since last December, the end of NATO’s enlargement to any country, including Ukraine; the withdrawal of NATO forces from the countries that joined the Atlantic Alliance after 1997; the ban on military cooperation between NATO and non-Alliance member countries of the former Soviet Union.

Putin and Macron pointed out that France and Europe must be parties to a dialogue that is destined to continue, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reacted to the phone call between the two asking Russia to “make a concrete gesture to prove that it does not want to attack Ukraine”. In the press conference convened in Kiev for foreign media, Zelensky also appealed to the West. The United States have been denouncing for weeks the military maneuvers in Moscow on the border with Ukraine and therefore the possibility of an invasion, but yesterday Zelensky asked “not to create panic”: “We do not need it, because we must keep our economy”.

“The biggest risk is destabilization within Ukraine”, more than a Russian invasion, the Ukrainian president fears that even the fear of a war will cause disastrous effects and a radicalization of the clash with the pro-Russian separatists of Donbass, in the eastern part of the country. In this atmosphere of renewed dialogue between Russia and Europe via Paris However, moments of tension remain, such as Moscow’s ban on entry to some senior European officials, which Brussels deplored. In the evening there was one phone call also between Macron and Zelensky, who thanked the French president because “the current negotiations reduce the risk of an escalation”.

The United States and Great Britain, on the other hand, still seem convinced of an attack, and the American president yesterday spoke of an “imminent Russian invasion”, to which Washington would respond with unprecedented sanctions against the Moscow economy.

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