French & German leaders to visit Moscow amid Russia-NATO tensions
Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron on February 7, and with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on February 15, the Kremlin said on Friday.
Both events will be followed by joint press conferences.
Putin and Macron last spoke on Thursday evening, which was their third conversation over the phone in a week. They discussed the current tensions around Ukraine and Moscow’s demand for the West to provide “long-term security guarantees” to Russia, according to the Kremlin.
AFP reported that Macron will visit Ukraine next week.
Speaking to German media, Scholz said, referring to Russian soldiers: “The situation is very serious, and you can’t ignore the fact that many troops have been deployed along the Ukrainian border.” Western countries have been accusing Russia of massing troops and military hardware with the intent to attack Ukraine, which Russia has repeatedly denied.
German media reported that Scholz will visit Kiev on February 14 to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The visits by European leaders will take place after a flurry of talks Russian officials had with the US and NATO last month.
Moscow views the Western military infrastructure close to its borders as a threat and wants the US and NATO to provide legally binding assurances on the matter. Russia also seeks guarantees that NATO will not expand further eastward, which would bar Ukraine’s potential membership in the bloc.
NATO and the US each sent written responses to Russia’s demands that were then leaked to the Spanish media this week. The documents confirmed that NATO refused to abandon its so-called ‘open-door policy’ of accepting new members, but, along with the US, proposed other steps to reduce military tensions in Eastern Europe.