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Putin told Macron he did not want to escalate Ukraine crisis - French official

01/28/2022 | 10:58am EDT
FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Putin speaks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during a video conference call outside Moscow

PARIS (Reuters) -Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Emmanuel Macron he wanted to continue dialogue with the West and did not want the situation near Ukraine to escalate, a French presidency official said after the two leaders spoke on Friday.

Moscow has massed troops near Ukraine and sought security guarantees from the West, including a promise that NATO will never allow Russia's former Soviet neighbour to join the U.S.-led alliance.

Putin spoke to Macron after the United States and NATO submitted responses to Russia's security demands after weeks of personal public silence on the crisis.

"President Putin said he wanted to continue dialogue and that we needed to work towards the implementation of the Minsk accords," the official said after a call between the two leaders, referring to four-way talks between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine on the conflict in eastern Ukraine that began in 2014. "He said he didn't want an escalation."

The Kremlin said Putin told Macron the United States and NATO had not addressed Russia's main security demands in their standoff over Ukraine but that Moscow was ready to keep talking

Throughout his five years as France's president, Macron has sought dialogue with Putin, at times to the irritation of his European Union allies.

The French official, who said the talks had been respectful and serious, said Putin had reiterated that the United States and NATO needed to offer Russia security guarantees.

Macron made clear that the sovereignty of neighbouring countries needed to be respected, the official said.

Western countries are worried Russia might invade Ukraine though Russia denies planning to do so.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mark Heinrich)

© Reuters 2022
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