Its objective is to “de-escalate” a military offensive by Vladimir Putin, which weakens Ukraine and threatens it with an uncertain fate. French President Emmanuel Macron left for Moscow to meet his Russian colleague today, before traveling to Kiev to meet his Ukrainian colleague. A diplomatic ballet when it is president pro tempore of the European Union and a new generation of leadership to resolve a conflict inherited from the cold war.
Macron is going to offer Putin “a peace plan” which includes gestures towards Moscow and seeks “a new European security order”. Your goal is to try stop a war at the gates of Europewith strong differences between the United States, the Eastern European NATO partners and Old Europe, which has not managed to form a new European army.
Putin and Macron will meet at the end of Monday afternoon, in frozen Moscow, and there is no time limit for the meeting. It will end with a press conference.
Macron has claimed that his negotiations with Russia are likely to “avoid a military conflict”, ahead of his visit to Moscow.
Several hundred Ukrainian civilians armed with wooden rifles play war in the ruins of an old tractor factory in Kiev, where they learn the rudiments of defending the city in the event of a Russian invasion. Photo EFE
The French president made this bold statement, which puts his credibility as a negotiator at stake, during an interview with the French newspaper Journal du Dimanchein which he also downplayed concerns that Vladimir Putin intends to invade Ukraine.
The French objective is to lower tension and implement the Minsk agreements, which were born in Normandy, under the Francois Hollande government. But Macron is seeking a commitment from Putin not to make any military incursions into Ukraine.
US satellites show a buildup of Russian troops, which could prepare for a partial incursion into Kiev if negotiations fail.
But there is a health issue that worries the heads of both forces: their soldiers have been infected with Covid at the front. Without distinction, Russians and Ukrainians are suffering and both countries are in the red zone of the pandemic.
The tour will start with Moscow because “it is with Putin and not with Zenensky that we have a problem today. It is in Moscow that we must fix things,” said a source at the Elysee.
The crisis arose because Putin does not want Ukraine to be part of NATO and seeks a commitment from the cold war body not to extend its domains beyond the 1997 borders. NATO is moribund and out of date but cannot adopt that commitment.
Therefore, as president of the EU but also the next French presidential candidate, Macron seeks impose the debate on European securityraised by Russia with its advance on the border with Ukraine.
Macron is going to raise two points with Putin, in his attempt to de-escalate the crisis: the respect for the sovereignty of Ukraine and the freedom of European states to choose their alliances.
After his stopover in Moscow and Kiev tomorrow, Macron will go to Berlin to meet with Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is very sensitive to the Russian threat.
In an interview with the Journal du DimancheMacron said he does not expect “unilateral gestures” from Putin. But that “Ukrainian sovereignty or that of other European states cannot be the object of any compromise”, although he considers it “legitimate” for Russia to raise the problems “of its own security”. He understands “the trauma of this great people and this great nation,” in his words.
Eastern European countries are not happy with Macron’s tour. They feel that rather than a show on the Ukrainian border, Putin can make a foray into the Baltics or Moldova. But Macron believes that the key to the conflict is in Moscow and he must address it. He doesn’t believe in invasion.
The Putin-Macron interview comes just a day after US intelligence suggested Moscow is intensifying moves toward a possible full-scale invasion. He has 70% of the forces he would need for such an attack.
US officials estimated that a major attack could take Kiev in two days and leave 25,000 to 50,000 civilians dead, along with 5,000 to 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 3,000 to 10,000 Russian soldiers.
The French president told the Dimanche Journal. “It is likely that the intensity of the dialogue we have had with Russia and this visit to Moscow will prevent this from happening. [una operación militar]. Then we will discuss the terms of the de-escalation.”
“I have always been in a deep dialogue with President Putin and our responsibility is to build historic solutions,” he said.
Macron went on to suggest that Russia’s decision to amass 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border was simply part of a broader strategy to extract security concessions from the West.
“Russia’s geopolitical goal today is clearly not Ukraine, but to clarify the rules of coexistence with NATO and the EU”He said.
His comments are likely to alarm other NATO members, particularly the United States and Britain, who have warned that a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine could “be imminent.” Both countries suspect that Putin may be using concern over NATO’s presence and expansion in the east as a pretext to launch an invasion.
Kiev has always tried to downplay fears of an impending Russian incursion as it seeks to avoid damage to its economy. President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Western allies not to cause “panic”. On Sunday, the presidency said it believed “a diplomatic solution was more likely than a military escalation.”
“The chances of finding a diplomatic solution to a de-escalation are considerably higher than the threat of a new escalation,” said Mykhailo Podololiak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, after warnings from US intelligence services about an invasion.
“A concentration of important Russian troops near our borders has been maintained since last spring. But to carry out massive psychological pressure. Russia proceeds to massive rotations of maneuvers, of arms movements“explained the official.
Ukraine prepares for all scenarios. Although the Americans maintain that Russia has 70% of a device ready for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine and 115,000 men.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dimitry Polyanskiy, dismissed reports from Washington of a possible invasion as “madness and scaremongering”, suggesting it was as likely as the US invading the UK.