Macron urges Putin to ‘return to the table’ on Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged Moscow to return to peace negotiations, while at the same time pledging additional military support for Kiev amid the ongoing escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Speaking to the France 2 broadcaster on Wednesday, Macron condemned the large-scale missile attack launched by Russia against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Crimea bridge. The missile strikes have shown that the conflict has entered “an unprecedented stage,” Macron asserted, claiming that “for the first time all over Ukraine civilians have been killed ... and electricity and heating facilities have been destroyed.”
“We’re going to deliver ... radars, systems and missiles to protect them from these attacks,” Macron said, adding that France is also negotiating delivery of six additional Caesar self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. The artillery pieces were originally built for Denmark.
The French leader admitted that Paris “was unable to deliver as much as the Ukrainians ask for,” explaining that the country has to keep some weaponry “to protect ourselves and eastern flank” of the US-led NATO block. “Today, first of all, Vladimir Putin must stop this war, respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and come back to the table for talks,” Macron said.
Macron's call for a return to talks comes despite Moscow's repeated assertions that it is ready to negotiate and that it was the Ukrainian delegation that ended talks peace talks in Istanbul.
When reminded of this Macron stated that negotiations “will be necessary” at some unspecified point in the future. “That’s why I have always refused maximalist positions,” he added.