Macron meets with Kyiv to discuss tensions between Russia and Ukraine
Diplomatic efforts to defuse the tensions around Ukraine continued Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron expected in Kyiv the day after hours of talks with the Russian leader in Moscow yielded no apparent breakthroughs.
Macron is set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as fears of a possible Russian invasion mount.
Recent weeks have seen high-level diplomacy by Western leaders to try and de-escalate tensions and prevent an attack.
On Monday, Macron met with Vladimir Putin, the Russian President. The talks lasted over five hours. After a lengthy meeting, Macron and Putin agreed to further talks. However, they also expressed their dissatisfaction.
Why are tensions high
- Moscow claims it has not planned to attack Ukraine, but has more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders.
- The Kremlin demands that NATO refuses to accept Ukraine and other former Soviet countries as members. NATO must also halt all weapon deployments and reduce its presence in eastern Europe. The U.S. and NATO reject the demands as non-starters.
- U.S. officials have painted the threat of an offensive on Ukraine as imminent — warnings Moscow has scoffed at, accusing Washington of fuelling the tensions around Ukraine.
Putin acknowledged that NATO and the United States have not responded to Moscow’s demands but indicated his willingness to continue negotiations.
He also warned that Ukraine’s entry to NATO could cause war between Russia, the alliance, and Russia. Putin warned that Ukraine’s accession to NATO and its move to reclaim Crimea will lead to European countries being drawn into a military conflict against Russia.
Macron stated that he had a deep, substantive conversation with Putin. The focus was on conditions that could lead to de-escalation.
He said, “We tried building converging elements.” “The coming days will prove crucial and will require deep discussions. He stated that Europe must find a solution in order to repair relations with Russia.
On Monday, the U.S. President Joe Biden met with Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Chancellor. Scholz will also travel from Washington to Kyiv and Moscow between February 14-15.
Russia may invade and shut down the gas pipeline
Biden promised that Russia would invade the Nord Stream 2 Russia – Germany gas pipeline. It has been completed, but it is still not operational. That means that tanks and troops will once again cross the Ukrainian border.
The move would be detrimental to Russia’s economy, as well as causing supply issues for Germany.
Scholz warned Moscow that there could be more to an invasion than they had anticipated.
Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, warned Russia Tuesday that invading Ukraine could only make NATO stronger. However, he said he believes that “principled diplomatic diplomacy” can help to defuse the crisis.
Johnson, writing in The Times of London, urged allies for the finalization of plans for economic sanctions to be in place in case Russia crosses into Ukraine.
As he prepares to meet with the Lithuanian prime minster in London on Tuesday to express support for the Baltic countries, he stated that the U.K. was ready to support NATO forces at Latvia and Estonia.
Johnson indicated that he is considering sending RAF Typhoon fighters, Royal Navy warships, and RAF Typhoon fighters to southeastern Europe. The U.K. said Monday it is sending 350 troops to Poland as part of efforts to bolster NATO forces in eastern Europe. It has already sent antitank weapons to Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter tug-of-war since 2014, following the ouster of Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly president; Moscow then annexed Crimea and threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in the east of the country. The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the east has since killed more than 14,000 people.
In 2015, France and Germany helped to broker a peace agreement, the Minsk Agreements. This deal ended large-scale hostilities but did not result in a political solution. In recent weeks, Ukrainian officials stated that the implementation of these agreements would be detrimental to the country. The Kremlin has accused Kyiv repeatedly of sabotage.
Putin stated that Macron’s proposal could form the basis of a settlement for the conflict in eastern Ukraine. However, he did not elaborate on the matter. Putin also indicated that they were open to having a conversation after Macron’s visit.