World leaders from Europe and abroad have stepped in to implore Vladimir Putin to scale down the Russian military presence on the country’s border with Ukraine. Many governments fear that Russia’s aggressive posturing could lead to outright hostilities with Ukraine. If this happens, NATO allies will likely rush to Ukraine’s aid, which could result in another armed conflict in Europe.
French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Putin this week to attempt to defuse tensions between the Russian leader and NATO. Macron tells reporters the talks will center on Europe’s right to security while working to find common ground with Putin.
Macron notes that he respects Russia’s own security concerns. Putin claims that Russia’s recent military build-up on the Ukraine border is a result of NATO’s moves to incorporate Ukraine.
The French president told reporters that he plans to be firm but understanding with Putin. “We will discuss terms for de-escalation. We must be very realistic. We will not obtain unilateral gestures, but it is essential to avoid a deterioration of the situation,” Macron explained to the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
Macron has spoken with Putin by phone multiple times in the past week. Reports indicate that Macron and Putin have a functional diplomatic relationship, making him a good fit for diplomatic talks with the notoriously stubborn Russian leader.
The Elysée Palace reports that Macron has coordinated with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to agree on a unified approach to dealing with the Ukraine crisis. The French president also plans to visit Kyiv on Tuesday to meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The French politician told reporters that the diplomatic talks would center on the recent “escalation of very strong tensions, a militarisation of the Ukrainian border on the Russian and Belarusian sides, (with) land, air and naval capabilities and multiple military exercises.”
“The geopolitical objective of Russia today is clearly not Ukraine, but to clarify the rules of cohabitation with NATO and the EU,” Macron stated, noting their dialogue “should not pass through the weakening of any European state.”
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is visiting Washington DC to speak with President Biden regarding his refusal to commit arms or soldiers to Ukraine. The chancellor has received backlash from abroad and from German citizens for his indecision regarding the crisis. Some have pointed out Germany’s reliance on Russian-supplied natural gas to power its energy grid and worry that Scholz might be unable to commit resources due to this arrangement.