Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
French President Emmanuel Macron emerged from his highly touted meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin with the faintest sliver of hope that diplomacy will prevail in the West’s lengthy standoff with Moscow.
“The next few days will be decisive and will require intensive discussions which we will pursue together,” Macron said in a press conference covered by Reuters.
Putin offered his own positive spin, saying that in the more-than-five-hour meeting, Macron had offered plans that could prove constructive.
“A number of his ideas, proposals, which are probably still too early to talk about, I think it is quite possible to make the basis of our further joint steps,” Putin said. “We have agreed that after his trip to the Ukrainian capital we will call each other again and exchange views on this matter.”
That phone call should be fast in coming.
Macron also held a meeting early Tuesday with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy . He emerged from those meetings with an air of optimism, saying both Ukraine and Russia have agreed to honor the Minsk accords. The document is a 12-point ceasefire deal signed by both countries in 2014 following a 5-month conflict that resulted in 14,000 deaths according to Ukrainian officials.
“We have now the possibility of advancing negotiations,” Macron told Zelenskiy at the meeting.
Zelenskiy, however, stated he would rather wait to see action from Putin:
Openness is always great, if it’s true, and not a game, but serious openness, not a joke, and understanding that there is a serious danger. I do not really trust words, I believe that every politician can be transparent by taking concrete steps.
Macron, who seeks reelection in 2022 and wishes to sell himself as a master diplomat, has an intense desire to see the Russian standoff through to a peaceful conclusion; however, his efforts come after months of posturing, and in the face of a continued buildup of Western troops in Europe.
President Joe Biden has also used economic sanctions as a means of steering Russia away from its build up. Following a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Biden threatened to end the Nord Stream II pipeline is Russia invades Ukraine.
Monday, the U.S. State Department confirmed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“[Blinken] spoke today with [Le Drian] about ongoing efforts by NATO Allies, EU partners, G7 members, and other partners to address Russia’s continued military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, and the importance of continuing to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “They discussed joint efforts to strengthen NATO’s Eastern Flank and to ensure Russia understands the high costs it would incur if it were to invade Ukraine further.”
Macron, too, has stressed his commitment to the continued independence of Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus, places where large collections of Russian troops are either amassed or conducting massive exercises, and expressed optimism that this could be achieved.
“Together… I’m sure we will get a result, even if it’s not easy,” Macron said.