President Putin assured me of his readiness to engage in this logic and his willingness to maintain the stability and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Macron added during a joint press conference. While the Russian head of state stressed his disagreements with NATO, the French president summarized his objectives: “short-term military stability, that the dialogue that has been established between Russia, the United States, Europeans continues to build solutions with the objective of the security of all”.”There is no security for Europeans if there is no security for Russia,” Macron conceded to his host.
But he reminded Vladimir Putin that the Baltic states and other bordering European countries had “the same fears” of security as those mentioned by Russia. And they have “the feeling that agreements have been violated” with the deployment of Russian troops, he added.”We must rebuild these concrete solutions together because we live on both sides of common borders,” pleaded the French president. Emmanuel Macron promised to “intensify contacts” with all his partners to “build new solutions”.”We have sketched out some leads in our head-to-head,” he continued. “We will talk again in a few days” and “I am sure we will get a result. It’s not easy, but I’m sure of it,” he concluded.
The press conference, however, highlighted deep differences between the two men, illustrated by a tense tone at the end of the session.”Whoever believes in Europe must know how to work with Russia. Is it easy? No. Is there an element of ingratitude? Yes. Should it be abandoned? No (…) We have disagreements, we assume them, “pleaded Mr. Macron.” Ukraine is a country on the borders around which there are 125,000 Russian soldiers. It makes you nervous,” he added, “we are at a level of incandescence that Europe has rarely experienced.”
“We will try to start a new process,” he said. The French Presidency assured after the press conference that the two leaders had several points of agreement, which they did not mention during the press conference. Moscow has agreed, according to Paris, to withdraw its soldiers at the end of the Zapad maneuvers in Belarus. The Élysée also cites the commitment of both parties to “not take new military initiatives, which makes it possible to envisage de-escalation”.
Nothing without the Ukrainians
The West, on the other hand, proposes discussions on Russia’s concerns, evoking reciprocal visits to military sites or disarmament measures. Proposals are “positive”, but “secondary”, according to Moscow. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, receiving his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Kyiv, insisted that Russia would not be able to “drive a wedge between Ukraine and its partners.”
Earlier, he had set his red lines: “No concessions on territorial integrity” and “a lasting withdrawal of Russian forces from the Ukrainian border and occupied territories.”Macron promised that there would be no “compromise on the Ukrainian issue without the Ukrainians.”Russia already annexed part of Ukraine in 2014, the Crimean peninsula. Since the same year, pro-Russian separatists, backed by Moscow, have also been at war with the Ukrainian army in eastern Ukraine, a conflict that has left more than 13,000 dead.
A peace process, mediated by Franco-German, has frozen the front, but a political settlement is paralyzed. Mr. Macron wants to revive it. For her part, the head of German diplomacy reminded Kyiv that the West would impose heavy economic sanctions on Russia in the event of an offensive, even if it will have a cost for the German economy.
The United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom have also sent military reinforcements to Europe. U.S. intelligence has assured that Russia has 70 percent of the necessary device for a large-scale attack on Ukraine. Macron estimated that 125,000 troops were deployed on Ukraine’s borders, Russia and Belarus.