Macron reveals details of call with Putin
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the request of Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, who reportedly has been trying, in vain, to reach the Russian president.
In a press conference on Thursday, Macron revealed that he had demanded an end to Moscow’s military attack on Ukraine during what he described as a “frank, direct, quick” call with Putin earlier that day.
The French president said he believes that a door should remain open for diplomacy with Russia so that Kiev and Moscow can negotiate an end to the current military conflict.
“I think it is my responsibility, first of all, to take such initiatives when they are requested by Ukraine, and then, while condemning, while sanctioning, while continuing to decide and act, to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be met, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities for the Ukrainian people,” Macron said.
He claimed that Zelensky told him that he had sought to speak to the Russian president directly, but could not get through.
“[The call] was also to ask him to discuss [the situation] with President Zelensky, who had requested that, because he could not reach him,” Macron said.
The Kremlin’s readout of the Macron call states that Putin provided an “exhaustive explanation of the reasons and circumstances for the decision to conduct a special military operation,” and that the two leaders had a “serious and frank exchange of views” on the Ukraine issue.
In a series of tweets early on Friday morning, Macron also announced that the EU had “decided to inflict very severe blows on Moscow” with a range of new sanctions, including on its financial, energy, transport and export sectors, as well as visa bans for particular Russian citizens. He added that Paris would soon deliver an aid package to Kiev worth €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) and will “continue to deliver military equipment” in support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The new penalties follow a raft of similar measures imposed by Western leaders, as well as allies like Japan, after Moscow launched a “special military operation” in support of breakaway republics in the Donbass region bordering Russia. Though the full extent of the armed action remains unclear, the Russian Defense Ministry claims to have struck targets across Ukraine.