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Macron Had Multiple Calls Sunday–Putin, Zelenskyy, Biden

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EIRNS—FLASH: It was announced early Feb. 21 (Paris time) by the Elysée, that President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin have agreed, in principle, to a summit.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s first phone call today with President Putin lasted for an hour and 45 minutes. He next spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and later in the day, Macron spoke with President Biden, for 15 minutes. Then again, Macron and Putin spoke.

The Elysée reported this morning that Macron’s intention was also to speak with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz “in the coming hours” — and also was intending to have discussions with the British and Italian Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Mario Draghi. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was also planning speak on the phone to his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Elysée had earlier described Macron’s call to Moscow today as among “the last possible and necessary efforts to avoid a major conflict in Ukraine.” It followed a meeting between the two leaders in Moscow on Feb. 7. In their call today they both agreed that there should be a meeting between the OSCE, Ukraine, and Russia on Monday, Feb. 21. They also agreed that their foreign ministers should meet “in the coming days.”

According to the Kremlin, Putin blamed what he called Ukrainian “provocations” over the escalation in fighting with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. He also demanded that NATO and the United States “take seriously” Moscow’s demands regarding security—the issue at the heart of the current crisis.

In a statement, the Kremlin said that “modern weapons and ammunition being sent to Ukraine by NATO member countries” were encouraging Kyiv to pursue a military solution in the Donbas region, which in turn was forcing civilians to leave.

Russia wants guarantees that NATO will halt what it calls the alliance’s eastward expansion, rule out membership for Ukraine and other former Soviet countries, and roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.