Putin and Macron discuss Ukrainian crisis

Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron have held phone talks on the standoff centered around Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron held phone talks on Saturday, discussing the Ukrainian crisis as well as other international security issues.

The two leaders discussed “the provocative speculations around the allegedly planned Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine, which provide background while the country is getting pumped with modern weaponry,” the Kremlin press service said in a statement.

Russia’s president also underlined the “reluctance” displayed by “leading Western powers” to push the Kiev authorities into “fulfilling the Minsk agreements,” a multinational 2015 deal that envisioned a roadmap out of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. While multiple international parties have repeatedly stressed the agreement is the only way to resolve the conflict, it has not been fully implemented and low-intensity fighting continues in the region.

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Macron, for his part, told Putin about the “concerns” shown by France’s “European partners and allies” regarding the situation in Ukraine, adding that “sincere dialogue” cannot come alongside an escalation of any sort, the Elysee said in a brief statement on the talks. The two presidents also discussed the ways to advance the implementation of the Minsk agreements, it added.

Putin and Macron also discussed the idea of a comprehensive security deal between Russia and the West, floated by Moscow back in December. “Vladimir Putin once pointed out the lack of a meaningful response from the United States and NATO to well-known Russian initiatives,” the Kremlin’s statement reads. The French presidency acknowledged the desire to continue dialogue on “the conditions for security and stability in Europe,” which was expressed by the two leaders as well.

The phone talks come days after Putin hosted his French counterpart in Moscow. The meeting, which lasted some six hours, largely revolved around the same topics, with the ongoing Ukraine standoff becoming the centerpiece of the negotiations.

Over the past few months, top Western officials and media have repeatedly warned of an alleged looming ‘invasion’ of Ukraine by Russia, a charge Moscow has consistently denied. The latest ‘invasion day’ was reported earlier on Saturday, with multiple outlets citing anonymous sources who claimed that Russia could attack Ukraine on February 16.

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