Macron to speak to Putin, seek clarity over Ukraine, France says

  • World
  • Friday, 28 Jan 2022

FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during a video conference call at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia June 26, 2020. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron will try to assess whether Russian President Vladimir Putin wants "consultations or confrontation" over Ukraine when they speak by phone on Friday, France's foreign minister said.

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.

Speaking to RTL radio, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the West still considered dialogue possible, but the ball was in Putin's court.

"It is up to Vladimir Putin to say if he wants consultations or confrontation," Le Drian told RTL radio, asking whether the Russian leader wanted to be a "destabilising power" or would seek de-escalation.

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

Western countries are worried Russia might invade Ukraine though Russia denies planning to do so. Macron said on Tuesday he would seek a clarification of Russia's intentions towards Ukraine.

Weeks of dialogue between the West and Moscow have produced few results but both sides have left the door open to dialogue although Russia said on Thursday it was clear the United States was not willing to address its main security concerns.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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