French President Emmanuel Macron visited his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Monday, in the midst of a crisis over the situation in Ukraine, and the two held a long meeting for five hours. “I have seen how much effort the French leadership is making to solve the issue of security in Europe,” Putin said before starting the meeting in private. “Especially to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine.”
“Let’s start building a useful response for Russia, useful for all of Europe. A response that allows us to avoid war, build elements of trust, stability and visibility. Let’s do it together,” said Macron, who has emerged these days as the European interlocutor with Russia and has insisted on the need for European strategic independence from the United States.
According to the Russian press, the leaders opened the meeting with a face-to-face meeting and then moved to a dining room for dinner.
At the beginning of the meeting, Macron called on Putin to find a collective response. “I believe that today’s conversation can pave the way that we must take, that of de-escalation,” he stressed.
While Macron assured on the way to Moscow that he was not expecting “miracles”, the Kremlin was also not optimistic this morning about possible “progress” during the meeting.
The French and Russian presidents have spoken on the phone about the situation in Ukraine on at least four occasions from December 21. This Tuesday, after his visit to Russia, Macron will travel to Ukraine to meet with its president, Volodímir Zelenski, with whom he has also had telephone conversations.
“These last weeks should lead us to a new European promise, with another security architecture decided between us, the Europeans, then with NATO and then propose it to Russia. We can count on a strategic compass and technological independence to respond to the challenges geopolitical. An independent Europe to decide for itself without depending on other powers,” said the French president in his speech in the European Parliament last month and in which he revealed his foreign policy objectives.
In an interview given before the trip to Russia to the Journal du Dimanche, Macron stated: “Russia’s geopolitical goal today is clearly not Ukraine, but to clarify the rules of coexistence with NATO and the EU.” “As long as we Europeans delegate the dialogue, we will not be able to resolve any conflict, because if we let others speak for us, we will not be able to contribute to our collective security”.
“The situation is too complex to expect great progress in the course of a meeting,” spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitri Peskov, said at his daily press conference hours before the meeting.
For his part, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Joe Biden in Washington on Monday. “Germany is one of the closest allies of the United States. We are working as a united front to dissuade Russia from aggression in Europe,” Biden said in brief remarks to the press at the start of the meeting. the issue of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline separates both partners, since the US opposed it from the beginning.