Russia: French proposals could form basis to end standoff with Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said several proposals put forward by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at talks 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,” Putin said on Monday after more than five hours of talks with Macron in the Kremlin.

He did not provide any details but said the two leaders would speak by phone after Macron meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday.

Putin said he was grateful to Macron for his efforts to solve the security crisis.

“I would like to thank Mr. Macron for the efforts France is making to resolve the acute issue of our relations with NATO, to create an environment of stability on the European continent, to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine,” Putin said.

Putin denied that Russia was acting aggressively towards Ukraine or the West.

“It is not us who are moving towards NATO’s borders,” he said.

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?” Putin said.

Putin said there would be no winners should European countries be drawn into a military conflict with Russia in the event Ukraine joins NATO and tries to retake Crimea.

Macron says diplomatic push on Ukraine will get results

Macron flew into Moscow at the start of a week of intense Western diplomacy aimed at easing fears of a Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops camped near the Ukrainian border, Macron was the first top Western leader to meet Putin since the crisis began in December.

Flanked by Putin, Macron said he had made proposals of “concrete security guarantees” to Russian leader at talks in Moscow.

“President Putin assured me of his readiness to engage in this sense and his desire to maintain stability and the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Macron said.

Macron said he was sure that ramping up diplomatic contacts over the Ukraine standoff will produce results.

“Together… I’m sure we will get a result, even if it’s not easy,” Macron said.

Demands for security guarantees

Putin described his lengthy talks with Macron at the Kremlin as businesslike. He noted that the US and its NATO allies have ignored Moscow’s demands for security guarantees.

He said that NATO’s expansion eastward to Russia’s border has violated the security principles of international agreements and scoffed at Western assurances that it is a defensive alliance that doesn’t threaten Russia.

“People of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have had learned it from their own experience,” the Russian leader said in a sarcastic reference to the US allies’ involvement in military campaigns in those countries.

He also referenced NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign in the former Yugoslavia.

Russia has denied any plans to attack its neighbour but demands that the US and its allies bar Ukraine and other former Soviet nations from joining NATO, halt weapons deployments there and roll back NATO forces from Eastern Europe.

Washington and NATO reject those demands.



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