Putin-Macron phone call, because the French president is pessimistic about Ukraine

Of Stefano Montefiori, correspondent from Paris

The umpteenth phone call, today 12 March, ended badly. For the Elysée “the worst is always possible, understood as the use of illicit weapons”

PARIS – «Ukraine violates humanitarian law“, He says Putin. “Russian liesHe replies Macron. Yet another phone call from French President Macron to Russian leader Putin, the second in two days together with German Chancellor Scholz, and Elysée sources confirm that Putin has no will to end the war in Ukraineas the Italian premier Draghi had already observed when at the Versailles summit he said “Putin does not want peace”.

Macron is pessimistic on the evolution of the next few days, but the diplomatic effort can only go on. Before speaking for about an hour and a half with Putin, Macron had an interview with Ukrainian President Zelensky. «It is not a mediation – explains the Elysée -. We ask Putin to account for his acts, and we do everything possible to bring about a ceasefire that can alleviate the suffering of civilian populations “.

It is not a mediation because France and the European Union are on the side of Ukraine, the attacked country, against Russia, the aggressor country. It is a difference in weight compared to other diplomatic efforts: Turkish President Erdogan also has a role in the negotiations, “but Turkey has not decided on sanctions against Russia, we do,” adds the Elysée.

Macron has a direct channel with Putin
invited to Versailles just a few months after his election in 2017, but behind the scenes other European countries are at work. On the Italian side, efforts are intensified to organize talks at prime minister level – in person, not by telephone – in the next few days.

The Elysée recalls that Macron acts in coordination with the European partners, and the Versailles summit confirmed the special agreement – also on the war in Ukraine – between Paris and Rome. France chairs the EU Council for six months, and Germany leads the G7. France and Germany also have a history of negotiations on Ukraine under the “Normandy format” that led to the defunct Minsk agreements.

The telephone exchange between Macron, Scholz and Putin was described as “frank and difficult” on the part of the Elysée sources, because “the point was to ask Putin to account for his actions, to invite him to respect his commitments and lead him to accept the negotiations”. Keeping dialogue with Putin open is not a sign of abating, because the Kremlin’s rhetoric is not accepted. When Putin accuses Ukraine of “flagrant violations” of humanitarian law, Macron replies that “it is a lie by Russia”, and that the violations – such as the bonbarding on Mariupol – come if anything from Moscow.

But it is still considered an asset that Putin you agree to have a comparison, also for ndo not aggravate his isolation and what appears to be a detachment from reality. On the one hand the phone calls, on the other the sanctions. As announced at Versailles, given that Putin still does not give any signs of pacification today, the European Union will proceed to further sanctions. “As Putin raises the level of the clash, we will raise the level of sanctions, such as those that have been adopted in the past against North Korea or Iran,” explains the source of the Elysée. “The worst is always possible. By worse, we mean the use of illicit weapons», Such as chemical or bacteriological ones. It is not up to European governments to classify the actions of the Russian army as war crimes, but the evidence gathered will be subjected to international justice.

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