The day after his long one-on-one with Vladimir Putin to discuss the Ukrainian crisis, Emmanuel Macron went to Kiev on Tuesday to meet his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, before going to Germany to find Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“We must together find the ways and means to engage in a demanding dialogue with Russia (…). The re-engagement of this dialogue is the only way that will make peace in Ukraine possible,” declared the French president during a press conference in Berlin.
Ukraine is under pressure as tens of thousands of Russian troops are still massed on its border.
The exchange between Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky focused in particular on peace negotiations on the conflict in Donbass, the pro-Russian separatist region of eastern Ukraine.
Monday, facing Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of being solely responsible for the impasse in which the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014 by Russia and Ukraine, find themselves. Never really applied, they provide for a series of mutual commitments to end this war which has claimed more than 13,000 lives.
The Russian president even allowed himself a joke addressed to the Ukrainian president, who was critical of certain elements of the peace plan negotiated at the time under Franco-German mediation. “Whether you like it or not, my pretty, you will have to endure,” he said.
“to maintain the stability and territorial integrity of Ukraine”
Monday, after more than five hours of discussion with Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin felt that “some of the ideas” of his French counterpart could “lay the foundations for common progress”. “President Putin assured me of his availability to commit to this logic and of his desire to maintain the stability and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the French president had declared for his part.
If Vladimir Putin had said he was ready to “find compromises”, he had however not said a word about the tens of thousands of Russian soldiers still camped on the borders of Ukraine. A situation that raised fears of an invasion, as in 2014.