French position on Ukraine revealed – media
French President Emmanuel Macron is said to have put forward under-the-table concessions on high-stakes European security issues, including a proposition to make Ukraine a neutral state, to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as they held crunch talks in Moscow, British media has claimed.
In a report published on Wednesday, the Daily Mail said a “senior government source” had disclosed that the French leader failed to consult with any of his partners about the private peace offerings ahead of the closed-door summit.
Interlocutors claim that his failure to brief Paris’ allies could endanger any prospect of establishing a meaningful agreement between Moscow and the West.
According to the outlet, one of Macron’s propositions suggested Kiev adopt a position of neutrality, which would effectively bar the former Soviet Republic from joining NATO’s ranks.
“He is doing his own thing, we don't know what's happening,” a source told the Daily Mail, adding that time will tell how his alleged suggestions unfold. “He's gone beyond the NATO position. But it is interesting.”
The Daily Mail report comes shortly after Macron claimed that he had managed to secure a guarantee from Putin that Russia would not seek to escalate tensions on the Ukrainian border further.
“I obtained that there will be no degradation nor escalation,” the French leader told journalists in Kiev ahead of a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “My aim was to freeze the game, to prevent an escalation and open up new perspectives… this objective for me is fulfilled.”
However, responding later on Tuesday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov denied that a deal of any kind had been sealed. “This is simply not possible… France is a member of NATO, but it is not the leader there – the leadership belongs to a completely different country in the bloc. So what kind of deals could we make under these circumstances?” he said.
Western leaders have been repeatedly sounding the alarm for months that they fear Moscow is amassing its troops at the demarcation line as a precursor to an invasion. The Kremlin has consistently rejected that it has any plans of attacking, and has looked to gain security guarantees that would rule out NATO’s expansion closer to Russia’s borders.
Last week, documents leaked to Spanish newspaper El Pais purported to show that Washington had formally rejected any such agreement, but had proposed other steps designed to increase military transparency between the two sides.