Next month could decide Ukraine conflict – Macron
The Ukraine conflict could reach a turning point by the end of this year, French President Emmanuel Macron has predicted, several months into Kiev’s counteroffensive, which has so far failed to make significant gains. However, he ruled out the possibility of Ukraine opening talks with Russia in the foreseeable future.
In an interview with the BBC released on Friday, Macron claimed that if Moscow prevails over Kiev, “you will have a new imperial power” in Europe that, he argued, would threaten many of its neighbors, including former Soviet republics.
The French leader reiterated that the West should continue to support Ukraine with military assistance, arguing that next month will be critical in the conflict. However, he did not specify how events in December could affect the eventual outcome.
Regarding a possible cessation of hostilities, Macron suggested that it is “not yet” time for Ukraine to come to the negotiating table with Russia, and that a decision on the matter should be made by Kiev independently. However, he said that at some point it might be possible to “have fair and good negotiations, and to come back to the table and find a solution with Russia”.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been underway since early June, but the frontline remains largely unchanged. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has estimated Ukrainian losses at more than 90,000 service members as well as 600 tanks and 1,900 armored vehicles since the start of the push.
US network NBC News reported last week that Western officials were engaged in “delicate” talks with Kiev to see whether it could consider some concessions to Russia to end the fighting. According to the article, the calls were driven by fears in the West that the hostilities have “reached a stalemate,” and that Ukraine is “running out of forces.”
Russia has repeatedly said it is open to talks with Kiev. Last autumn, however, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree banning all negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow after four former Ukrainian regions overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in public referendums.
Last year, Macron suggested that any peace talks on Ukraine would have to include discussions on security guarantees for Russia, especially regarding the positioning of NATO forces in Europe. Ukrainian officials, however, rejected the idea out of hand.