German, French leaders urge swift cease-fire, troop withdrawal in call with Putin

German chancellor, French president also ask Russian leader to hold 'serious direct negotiations' with Ukrainian president.

German, French leaders urge swift cease-fire, troop withdrawal in call with Putin

German and French leaders called on the Russian president to agree on "an immediate cease-fire and a withdrawal of Russian troops" from Ukraine in a three-way phone call on Saturday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 80 minutes, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a written statement.

Scholz and Macron urged Putin to step into "serious direct negotiations" with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and to find "a diplomatic solution to the conflict."

At least 4,031 civilians have been killed and 4,735 injured in Ukraine since Russia’s war on its neighbor began on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is believed to be much higher.

Over 6.7 million people have fled to other countries, while more than 7.7 million have been internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.

Hüseyin Demir

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