French leader to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he continues diplomatic push to avert war.
France’s Emmanuel Macron is travelling to Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, seeking a breakthrough in the East-West deadlock over Ukraine.
The Tuesday meeting comes a day after he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for discussions that lasted more than five hours, marking the highest-profile intervention yet by a Western leader.
“The next few days will be decisive and will require intensive discussions which we will pursue together,” Macron told reporters after meeting Putin.
The French president said he had made proposals of “concrete security guarantees” to Putin, who suggested some of the ideas could help ease the crisis.
Here are the latest updates:
Recap: Macron, Putin meet in Moscow
The French and Russian leaders voiced guarded optimism for a breakthrough. Here are some of the top lines from the talks:
- Macron made proposals of “concrete security guarantees” to Putin, including an engagement from both sides against new military action, the launching of a new strategic dialogue and efforts to revive the peace process in Kyiv’s conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
- “There is no security for the Europeans if there is no security for Russia,” he said.
- Putin said several of Macron’s proposals could be the start of a resolution, but reiterated Moscow’s main security demands.
- “If Ukraine joins NATO and tries to get Crimea back by military means, European countries will automatically be drawn into military conflict with Russia … [and] there will be no winners,” Putin said.
- The pair are due to speak again after Macron meets Zelenskyy.
Putin promised no new manoeuvres near Ukraine for now: Report
Putin promised Macron that Moscow will not carry out new military initiatives near Ukraine for the time being as a precursor to possible de-escalation, a French official has reportedly said.
The Russian leader also agreed that troops taking part in military drills on Belarusian territory near Ukraine’s borders would be pulled back once those war games are over, Reuters quoted the French official as telling reporters on condition of anonymity.
Putin himself did not mention such concessions when he spoke to the media after his meeting with Macron.
Recap: Western worries, Russia’s requests
- Moscow is estimated to have amassed more than 100,000 soldiers near Ukraine, raising fears that it is preparing for a possible invasion.
- The West has warned of sanctions should it invade, including measures targeting Putin and the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
- Moscow says it is not planning an invasion and accuses NATO of the deteriorating security situation.
- The Kremlin wants guarantees to ease the crisis, including commitments from NATO that Ukraine never be allowed to join.
- The United States and NATO have rejected that demand, but Washington is open to discussing other issues, such as arms control.
Ukraine’s army to begin drills with drones, anti-tank missiles on Thursday
Ukraine’s army will conduct military drills from February 10 to 20 in response to Russia’s exercises in Belarus, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said.
Reznikov told a local TV channel that the manoeuvres beginning on Thursday will see Ukrainian soldiers train with the Bayraktar drones and anti-tank Javelin and NLAW missiles provided to Kyiv by foreign partners.
Russian rouble hits near four-week high
The rouble has reached its strongest level in nearly four weeks, with investors looking for signs of de-escalation.
As of 07:37 GMT, the Russian currency was 0.2 percent stronger against the US dollar at 75.34, having earlier touched 75.14, its strongest level since January 13. It had gained 0.5 percent to trade at 85.87 versus the euro.
The rouble has steadily moved away from a near 15-month low of 80.4125 against the US dollar hit last month. Robust oil prices have helped nudge it back towards firmer footing as has the prospect of continued diplomacy between Moscow and the West.