French President Emmanuel Macron travels to Kiev on February 8 after extended talks in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow as international diplomacy over the Ukraine crisis heats up.

Macron told a Kremlin press conference that he had made proposals for “concrete security guarantees” to Putin and that the Russian leader had assured him of his “willingness to engage in this direction and to its will to maintain the stability and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. “

The French leader said he found points of convergence with Putin and added that the next few days would be crucial in the stalemate caused by Moscow’s military build-up near Ukraine, which the West suspects is the prologue of an invasion.

Macron said he told Putin that creating a new security architecture in Europe should not be done by nullifying states’ right to join the NATO alliance.

US officials say Russia has deployed some 110,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and is on track to muster a large enough force – some 150,000 troops – for a full-scale invasion by the middle. of the month.

Live briefing: Ukraine in the crosshairs

Consult the RFE/RL new live briefing on the massive build-up of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border and the ongoing diplomacy to prevent a possible invasion. Ukraine in the crosshairs features the latest developments and analysis, updated throughout the day.

The French presidency said the proposals being discussed include a commitment by Russia and the West not to take further military action, the launch of a new strategic dialogue and efforts to relaunch the peace process in the east from Ukraine.

Putin in turn said that Moscow “will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone”, adding that several proposals put forward by Macron could form a basis for advancing the Ukrainian crisis.

“A number of his ideas, proposals…are possible as a basis for further steps,” Putin said after the talks, describing them as useful, substantial and pragmatic, although Macron admitted differences remained.

Putin said he and Macron would talk to each other again by phone after the French president’s talks with Ukrainian leaders on Feb. 8 in Kyiv.

The Russian leader reiterated that he sees no alternative to the existing Minsk peace accords to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and said Kyiv must comply with the steps outlined in the agreements reached in 2014 and 2015.

“Whether they are alive or have prospects or not, I believe there is simply no other alternative” to the Minsk agreements, Putin said.

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France met in the so-called Normandy format to seek an end to the conflict. The agreements have been paralyzed by divergent interpretations of their content and the process of their implementation.

Diplomats have tried to breathe new life into the agreements, which contain the basis for a final settlement in Ukraine’s Donbass region, parts of which have been under the control of pro-Russian separatists since April 2014.

In Washington, US President Joe Biden held his own crisis talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as the wave of diplomacy over Russian troop buildups near Ukraine spanned two continents.

US President Joe Biden (right) meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House in Washington on February 7.

US President Joe Biden (right) meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House in Washington on February 7.

The two leaders underlined their unity and confidence as they work to further deter Russian aggression in Europe. Biden said Germany and the United States were “in phase” as they worked to resolve tensions.

Biden also vowed to “terminate” the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was built to deliver Russian gas to Germany but has not yet entered service.

“The idea that Nord Stream 2 would go ahead with the invasion by the Russians just isn’t going to happen,” Biden said at a joint press conference with Scholz.

He did not specify how the United States could carry out such a move, but stressed that Germany and the United States were ready to act together in their response to any invasion.

He said that if Russia invaded – specifying that it was tanks or troops crossing the Ukrainian border again – “then there will be no more Nord Stream 2,” Biden said. “I promise you we’ll end it.”

Scholz didn’t go that far in his comments, but said Germany and the United States would act together in their response to any Russian invasion, which Moscow denies planning. He said the two countries are ready to adopt severe and far-reaching measures in the event of an invasion.

Biden added that the United States was working to find alternative sources of natural gas to compensate for a loss of supply if Russia cut them off.

“We think we could be a big part of the gas,” Biden said, adding that if the supply were cut, Russia would be hit very badly. “We are looking at what we can do to compensate for the loss – the immediate loss – of gas should this occur.”


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