Russian President Vladimir Putin gave assurances Monday following talks in Moscow with French President Emmanuel Macron that he would do “everything in his capacity to find acceptable mechanisms” to resolve geopolitical tensions over the security situation around Ukraine.
In a joint news conference at the end of over six hours of talks, both Macron and Putin affirmed positive outcomes upon which further discussions could take place. The French president noted that the talks yielded a "convergence" which will enable them to move forward in the coming weeks and avoid any escalation in Ukraine.
"The next few days will be decisive and involve lively discussions...We have the desire to work together to guarantee a new order of stability and security in Europe,” Macron said.
Putin also confirmed that he found a number of ideas and proposals which were “quite possible to make the basis of our further joint steps.”
Macron is currently traveling to Moscow and Kyiv, Ukraine for talks amid fears of a military conflict at Europe’s eastern borders.
Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders, raising concerns of an invasion. While Putin has dismissed those fears, he also claimed that Ukraine was playing a part in the military buildup by gathering troops around the contested Donbas region.
Both leaders agreed that the current tensions could result in a conflict that either side would like to avoid.
“We will do everything in our capacity to find acceptable mechanisms. These are complex issues with no easy solution,” Putin said, adding Macron has agreed to discuss the developments upon his visit to Kyiv.
“We will have a phone talk after he visits Ukraine, and we will discuss what the Ukrainian leadership deems acceptable and we will devise further steps based on that,” he noted.
Putin repeatedly underscored that he was against NATO’s eastward expansion through new members as it creates an existential threat to his country.
“If Ukraine becomes a part of NATO and if they decide to recover Crimea using military means, European countries will automatically be at war with Russia,” he warned.
“The military capacities of NATO and Russia are incomparable. There will be no winners. We would like to avoid that, and that’s why Macron is here,” he said.
He thanked Macron for his attempt to review the security issues in the East. Moscow needs “security guarantees" from NATO and Washington, including non-expansion of membership and non-deployment of lethal military infrastructure on the eastern borders.
Macron, on the other hand, is confident that France will play a key role in resolving the crisis and has linked its resolution with the announcement of his re-election in upcoming presidential elections in April.
He insisted that the implementation of the Minsk agreement signed between Kyiv and Moscow alone can prevail in the settlement of the crisis.
While Russia is accused of not keeping its part of the deal as it continues to support rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops in Donbas, Putin however deplored Ukraine for its “lack of political will” to implement the peace plan part of the agreement.