Putin, Macron focus on Donbass peace plan after Ukraine talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron focused attention on an existing peace plan for the Donbass conflict region as a step towards de-escalation in the Ukraine crisis.

The Dobass got the attention of the two world leaders during talks in Moscow.

At a more than five-hour meeting with Macron, the Russian president called on Ukraine to implement the Donbass peace plan.

The so-called Minsk agreements have been ignored by the Ukrainian leadership so far, Putin charged early Tuesday after more the talks with Macron in Moscow.

A dialogue between Kiev and the leadership of the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk was necessary.

“From my point of view, it is obvious that the current authorities in Kiev are on course to dismantle the Minsk agreements,” Putin said.

The Kremlin chief also accused Ukraine of human rights abuses, including the repression of native Russian speakers, a ban on the media and crackdown on opposition figures.

Putin asked Macron to address these issues at his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev on Tuesday.

Macron will then travel to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who will then be back from the United States. France currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

After the marathon talks with Putin, Macron said he sees possibilities for a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Russia, saying that the peace plan for the Donbass conflict region must be implemented “strictly and completely.”

This would also require steps from Ukraine, Macron asserted.

The conflict must be resolved so that the European Union and Russia can improve their relations, Macron added.

“Our duty is to continue working togethertogether,” he said.

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In order to guarantee peace and security in Europe, new and innovative solutions for “concrete security guarantees” could be created on the basis of existing agreements, Macron added.

The French president pointed to the need to find concrete steps to de-escalate in the coming weeks, in coordination with Ukraine, the EU, and the United States.

Consultations, including in the Normandy format with representatives of Russia and Ukraine under Franco-German moderation, would continue.

“We are aware of the seriousness of the situation,” said Macron.

Putin charged that the West was using the tensions in Ukraine for an anti-Russian policy.

Russia was being criticized for moving its troops on its own territory, while the Ukrainian army was being financed and supplied with weapons from abroad, the Kremlin chief charged.

Putin and Macron greeted each other in informal terms at their first meeting in more than two years. Contact had been maintained, Putin said.

He and Macron have spoken three times by phone in the past several days.

But the Kremlin had lowered expectations of a breakthrough ahead of the meeting.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described it as “very important” but added that “the situation is too complicated to expect any decisive breakthroughs in the course of a meeting,” in remarks reported by the Interfax agency.

There are fears in the West that Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin denies such plans.

Many analysts believe that the Russian side wants to stir up fears of war in order to persuade NATO to make concessions to Russia, which has demanded fresh security guarantees in Europe from NATO. (dpa/NAN)