Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Poutine agreed, Friday, January 28, to the “need for de-escalation” and one “continuation of dialogue” in the Ukrainian crisis, announced the French presidency. During a telephone conversation between the French and Russian leaders, “President Putin has not expressed any offensive intentions (…). He made it very clear that he was not looking for confrontation., reported the Elysée Palace, adding: “Dialogue is difficult”, but the “channels of discussion are open”.
Regarding the conflict in eastern Ukraine – where pro-Russian separatists have opposed Kiev since 2014 – the Russian president himself insisted on the importance of discussions in “Normandy format”, according to a statement from the Kremlin. These talks bring together Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France and aim to implement the 2015 Minsk peace agreements, which have stalled today.
Mr. Macron must also meet at the end of the afternoon with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. The latter on Friday called on Westerners not to arouse ” panic “ around tensions with Russia. “The probability of the attack exists, it has not disappeared and it has not been less serious in 2021”, most “we don’t see any escalation higher than the one that existed” last year, assured Mr. Zelensky. “This panic, how much is it costing our country? », he wondered. “We need to stabilize the economy” of this former Soviet republic, he added. President Zelensky also called on Russia to “take steps” for ” to prove “ that it is not going to attack Ukraine.
The United States is categorical
On Thursday, the United States assured that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, dear to Moscow, would be stillborn in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The fate of this controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany – which Washington never wanted, but which is now completed with the blessing of Berlin – will certainly be at the heart of the visit of the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to the House White, February 7.
Accused of procrastinating, the German government tried on Thursday to clarify its position. The “strong penalties” being prepared by the West in the event of a Russian offensive also include Nord Stream 2, which is still awaiting its commissioning, declared the head of German diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock.
The US government was even more categorical. “I want to be clear with you today: if Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not go ahead”, warned the number 3 of American diplomacy, Victoria Nuland.
In addition, the United States seized the UN Security Council on Thursday, demanding a meeting on Monday because of the “clear threat” what does Russia weigh in their eyes on “international peace and security”.
President Joe Biden called his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Thursday and reassured him that the United States would respond. “resolutely” in the event of a Russian invasion, according to a press release from the American administration. The two heads of state also discussed the possibility of increased economic assistance to Kiev.
100,000 Russian soldiers at the border
The Democratic President also raised the “clear possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February”, a date already mentioned by American intelligence. The West is therefore continuing to put pressure on Russia, which has shown itself to be reserved, to say the least, the day after receiving the written responses from the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to its requests to get out of the crisis.
“The ball is in their court”, “we hope that Moscow will study what we are offering them and return to the negotiating table”, said Mme Nuland, reaffirming that in the event of “rejection” of this “dialogue offer” the penalties would be “very painful”.
Some 100,000 Russian soldiers have been camped on the Ukrainian border with their armored vehicles since the end of 2021. Russia denies any plans for an invasion, but considers itself threatened by the expansion of NATO for two decades as well as by Western support for Kiev . She called for a formal end to NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, and a return to Western military deployments on the 1997 borders.
The United States and NATO, unsurprisingly, formally rejected these key demands on Wednesday. However, they again opened the door to negotiations on reciprocal limits to the deployment in Europe of short and medium-range missiles, as well as to military exercises near the opposing camp.