Macron and Putin resume telephone contact, but remain far apart in the Ukraine war – POLITICO

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Vladimir Putin for the first time in a month on Tuesday, but the two leaders appeared as far apart as ever on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Macron spoke frequently to Putin in the run-up to the invasion and in the weeks that followed. But the French leader had not spoken to the Russian president since evidence surfaced of mass killings of civilians by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, widely condemned as war crimes.

Macron resumed telephone contact with Putin after a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday, the Elysee Palace said in a Explanation about the conversation with the Russian leader.

The two sides issued very different advertisements of the call, which Elysée said lasted two hours and 10 minutes. It was the 20th phone call Macron had had with Putin since last December, but the first since March 29, according to the French president’s office.

Contrary to the widespread evidence of war crimes by Russian soldiers – such as the Bucha killings and the bombing of the city of Mariupol – Putin claimed that the EU is ignoring war crimes by Ukrainian forces, according to the Kremlin’s version on Tuesday.

The Kremlin read aloud claimed that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the “massive shelling of cities and towns in Donbass, resulting in civilian deaths,” without naming a specific location or incident. This could be stopped if the West puts pressure on Kyiv and stops supplying arms to the Ukrainian armed forces.

For his part, Macron called for a ceasefire and “urged Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a permanent member of the EU [United Nations] Security Council by putting an end to this devastating aggression,” said the Elysée.

Macron’s office said he had “expressed deep concerns about Mariupol and the situation in Donbass and called on Russia to allow the continuation of the evacuation of the Azovstal plant, which began in the past few days.”

Hundreds of civilians and soldiers are reportedly still trapped at Mariupol’s Azovstal Steel Plant, which has been under siege by Russian forces.

Putin said Russia is evacuating civilians “in accordance with the agreement reached at a meeting between Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary-General António Guterres on April 26,” according to the Kremlin.

The French president said he remains open to “working on a negotiated solution” to bring peace. Putin said he was “still open to dialogue” but criticized Ukrainian negotiators, accusing them of being inconsistent and unprepared for serious work.

The two leaders also discussed disruptions to food supply chains. While Macron said he wanted to “work with relevant international organizations to lift Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian food exports through the Black Sea given their impact on global food security,” Putin argued that Western sanctions were the main reason for these disruptions.

According to the Kremlin, the two leaders agreed to keep in touch. However, the Elysée ad gave no indication of possible future calls – something that used to be a feature of such statements from the French President’s office. Macron and Putin resume telephone contact, but remain far apart in the Ukraine war - POLITICO

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