Macron claims Putin assured no escalation of Ukraine tensions

Kiev, Feb 8 (EFE).- French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that he had received assurances from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that military tensions over a buildup of Russian troops near the borders with Ukraine would not escalate any further.

Macron was speaking after a meeting in Kiev with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a day after the French leader held talks with Putin in Moscow as part of international diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation.

While he said the “unprecedented military pressure” was due to Russia’s “threatening posture,” he called on all parties “to stabilize the situation to enable us to re-engage by using new guarantee mechanisms to ensure deescalation.

“The approach has to be measured, and all the stakeholders have to be restrained in their actions and words,” Macron said.

He announced that another high-level meeting of the Normandy Format (Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany) would be held in Berlin on Thursday.

“This process should move forward regardless of tensions on our continent and military pressure on the border,” he stressed.

He also insisted that “France and Germany would continue to mediate” to “methodically and resolutely” implement the Minsk agreements signed in 2014 to resolve the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“This (…) is the only path forward that will allow us to find a durable political solution,” Macron said.

Zelenskiy, who has said he is willing to meet with Putin, expressed confidence that “the negotiations in Berlin will bring us closer to a Normandy summit.”

But he questioned whether the Russian president was genuinely open to dialogue and interested in reducing the tensions between their two countries, as the Kremlin has insisted.

“Openness is always a wonderful trait if it is a true and honest openness, if it isn’t just a game,” Zelenskiy said.

“But I don’t always believe people at face value – I think it is the actions of politicians that prove what they say, and there need to be concrete steps taken for de-escalation.”

Macron said that Putin had insisted that he is “not the initiator of the escalation” on the Ukrainian border, while Russia’s president reiterated during their meeting on Monday that his country had not received security assurances from the United States and Nato.

Russia’s demands include, among others, a legally binding commitment that neither Ukraine or any other former Soviet republic would ever be allowed to join the Western military alliance.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that de-escalation around the situation in Ukraine is “very necessary”, and said that any claims that Putin had given Macron assurances were “not right.”

Russia sees “Western countries sending troops to Ukraine, sending aircraft loaded with weapons, sending military equipment” and Ukraine conducting exercises and “testing the armaments it is receiving,” which Peskov said “provokes new spirals of tension”. EFE


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