France’s President Emmanuel Macron visited Moscow on Tuesday and had a six-hour conversation with Vladimir Putin, LeMonde reports.
In its diplomatic efforts, President Macron paid the two visits, to Russia and to Ukraine on Tuesday. the French leader became the first leader of a major Western power to meet President Putin since Russia reportedly massed troops near Ukrainian borders.
On Tuesday, Macron said he believed steps can be taken to de-escalate the crisis and called on all sides to stay calm. In contrast to Joe Biden and Boris Johnson, the French leader has played down the likelihood that Russia may soon invade its neighbour.
According to Macron, Moscow denies any plans to invade but is seeking sweeping concessions from NATO. The demands include a promise of no missile deployments near Russia’s borders, a scaling back of NATO infrastructure and a ban on Ukraine ever joining the alliance.
To ease the tensions, Macron even shuttled from Moscow to Kyiv on Tuesday in a bid to mediate a settlement and avoid the escalation of the possible conflict.
Macron in Berlin
Arriving in Berlin after two days of talks in the former Soviet republics, Macron urged the Western world to continue “firm dialogue” with Russia. As the French President emphasized, it is the only way to defuse fears Russia could invade Ukraine.
Following the six-hour meeting with Putin, Macron said Putin had told him that Russia “would not be the source of an escalation”, despite amassing more than 100,000 troops and military hardware on Ukraine’s border.
Meantime, “concrete, practical solutions” should be found to lower tensions between Russia and the West. The French president had no breakthroughs, in fact, with his two Tuesday meetings. Both Russian and Ukrainian Presidents have assured him they were committed to the principles of a 2014 peace agreement.
“Calm … is essential from all parties in words and in deeds,” Macron praised the Ukrainian President Zelenskiy who, in fact, made clear he was sceptical of any assurances his French counterpart may have received from Kremlin.
Macron flew later to Berlin for meetings with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In a statement alongside Macron before the talks began, Scholz told reporters: “Our common goal is to prevent a war in Europe.”