Macron proposes ‘new security mechanisms’ for Europe in talks with Putin
Moscow, Feb 7 (EFE).- French President Emmanuel Macron said after meeting here Monday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that “new security mechanisms” are needed to stabilize the situation in Europe.
“We must jointly show a willingness to work on security guarantees, build a new order of security and stability in Europe,” Macron said in a joint press conference at the Kremlin after more than five hours of talks.
Macron, who will meet on Tuesday in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the “next few days will be decisive.”
“We need to build new mechanisms,” the French head of state said, though noting that the fundamental principles governing relations among European countries must remain intact.
He stressed the importance of reaching agreement on “concrete measures to stabilize the situation and bring about a de-escalation” on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
The high-profile meeting took place amid a build-up of an estimated 125,000 Russian troops along that country’s border with Ukraine, raising fears of a new outbreak of conflict.
Macron said he understands the concerns expressed by Russia, which wants a commitment by the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization to pull troops from former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and assurances that Ukraine will never be admitted to the alliance (demands rejected by the US and its allies).
But he added that “President Zelenskyy is the president of a country on whose border there are 125,000 soldiers. That’s why he’s uneasy.”
Putin, for his part, said he welcomed “some of the ideas and proposals” of the French leader for forging a security agreement that is acceptable to all the countries of Europe.
He added that he and Macron agreed to speak by telephone as soon as he finishes his visit to Kyiv and Berlin, where the French president will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“For our part, we’ll do everything possible to reach a compromise that satisfies everyone. In the proposals we sent to NATO and Washington there’s not a single point we consider unattainable. Not a single one,” Putin said.
In terms of military tensions on the border with Ukraine, Putin accused Ukraine of deploying 150,000 troops to the line of separation from Russian-backed rebels in the Donbas region, a theater of conflict since 2014.
He once again criticized NATO’s open-door policy and blamed the US for a liberal interpretation of Article 10, which outlines the alliance’s enlargement policy.
“Do you want to fight Russia? Do you want France to fight us?” Putin said in response to a French journalist’s question.
He warned on Monday that in the event of a war between Russia and NATO “there would be no winners” due to Russia’s “potent nuclear arsenal.”
Earlier Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was considering a further boost to its presence in Eastern Europe.
That military alliance has already strengthened its numbers in the Baltic, Eastern Europe and Black Sea region, with the United States deploying some 8,000 troops.
“We are considering more longer-term adjustments to our posture, our presence, in the eastern part of the alliance. No final decision has been made on that, but there is a process now going on within NATO,” he told a joint press conference in Brussels alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Stoltenberg also criticized China for supporting Russia’s petition to halt NATO’s eastward expansion, saying it was an “attempt to deny sovereign nations the right to make their own choices.” EFE