Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) France’s President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed on Sunday to seek a diplomatic situation to the Ukraine standoff. In a phone call, the two agreed to do more in pursuit of a diplomatic solution, according to reporting by DW.
Macron’s office pointed out that French and Russian ministers would meet “in the coming days” to continue the discussion.
Moscow indicated that the talks would be held in the Normandy format, with Russian and Ukrainian representatives negotiating under moderation from their French and German counterparts.
After talking with Putin, Macron called the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to discuss the “need and possible ways of immediate de-escalation.”
Russia rejects accusations
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov was insistent that it would be pointless for Russia to attack anyone and urged Western countries to “come to reason” with the reminder that “throughout its history, Russia has never attacked anyone”. Russia, he declared, having “survived so many wars, is the last country in Europe that wants to talk at all, even to say the word war.”
EU Council head Charles Michel said that, in his view, it was not clear whether Moscow is open to dialogue. “We cannot forever offer an olive branch while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to amass troops”, he opined.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, was maintaining that “everything we’re seeing suggests that this is dead serious, that we are on the brink of an invasion.”
Nonetheless, he declared that “until the tanks are actually rolling and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President Putin from carrying this forward.”
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, called on Western countries to at least impose some sanctions on Russia, stressing that “Russia needs to be stopped right now… we see how events are unfolding.”
His statement came after Russia and Belarus had decided to extend their military drills in Belarus. “I’m officially saying that there are all the grounds to implement at least a part of sanctions prepared against Russia, now”, he declared.