French President Emmanuel Macron's remarks during his visit to Kiev came after the Kremlin denied reports that he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin struck a deal on de-escalating the crisis.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Russian leader Vladimir Putin told him he would not further escalate the Ukraine crisis in their marathon talks in the Kremlin a day earlier.
At a news conference after his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Macron on Tuesday said Putin told him during their more than five-hour meeting on Monday that “he won’t be initiating an escalation. I think it is important.”
According to the French president, Putin also said there won’t be any Russian “permanent (military) base” or “deployment” in Belarus, where Russia had sent a large amount of troops for major war games that are about to kick off.
Macron's remarks on a visit to Kiev came on Tuesday after the Kremlin denied reports that he and Putin struck a deal on de-escalating the crisis.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that “in the current situation, Moscow and Paris can't be reaching any deals.”
Peskov also said withdrawing Russian troops from Belarus after the war games was the plan all along.
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'It will take time to get results'
Macron said both Putin and Zelenskyy confirmed to him that they were willing to implement the so-called Minsk agreements aimed at ending the separatist conflict in the eastern Ukraine.
The 2015 peace deal is “the only path allowing to build peace ... and find a sustainable political solution.”
Macron said the presidential advisers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine will meet on Thursday in Berlin to discuss the next steps. Dialogue is the only way to ease tensions, yet “It will take time to get results,” he said.
The Kremlin wants guarantees from the West that NATO will not accept Ukraine and other former Soviet nations as members, that it halt weapon deployments there and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe, demands the US and NATO reject as nonstarters.
Moscow has massed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders, but insists it has no plans to attack.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden met in Washington on Monday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who also will travel to Kiev and Moscow on February 14-15.
Biden vowed that the Nord Stream 2 Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline, which has been completed but is not yet operating, will be blocked “if Russia invades, that means tanks and troops crossing the border of Ukraine again."
Halting the pipeline's operation would hurt Russia economically but also cause supply problems for Germany.
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