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Vladimir Putin meets with Emmanuel Macron in the Kremlin. PA Images

Vladimir Putin says it's 'possible' to move forward on some of Macron's proposals

But the Kremlin also warned that the situation is too complex for a breakthrough after “just one meeting”.

LAST UPDATE | 7 Feb 2022

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin said several proposals put forward by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at talks today could form a basis for moving forward on the crisis over Ukraine.

“A number of his ideas, proposals… are possible as a basis for further steps,” Putin said after more than five hours of talks with Macron.

“President Putin assured me of his readiness to engage [on concrete security guarantees] and his desire to maintain stability and the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Macron said in turn.

International efforts to defuse the stand-off over Ukraine have intensified, with Macron travelling to Moscow for talks and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington to co-ordinate policies as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine mounted.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border, fears are mounting that a major conflict could break out in Europe.

An intense round of diplomacy is ongoing in a bid to stop the situation from spiralling out of control.

french-president-emmanuel-macron-arrives-at-the-grand-kremlin-palace-to-meet-russian-president-v-putin-on-the-russian-western-crisis-over-ukraine-in-moscow-russia-on-february-7-2022-photo-by-dom French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Grand Kremlin Palace. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Macron called for a de-escalation as he sat down with Putin in the Kremlin.

“Dialogue is necessary because that’s the only thing that will help, in my view, to build a context of a security and stability on the European continent,” Macron said, calling the discussion a possible first step towards de-escalation.

“I’m happy to have this opportunity to have a deep discussion on all these issues… and to start building an effective response,” he added.

Putin, in turn, hailed France’s role in shaping European security and noted that their talks came on a day when the countries signed a friendship treaty 30 years ago.

“I realise that we share concern about what’s going on in Europe in the security sphere,” Putin told Macron, adding that he appreciates his efforts to help ensure “an equal security in Europe” and broker a settlement to the Ukrainian crisis.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, described the visit as “very important” – but sought to temper expectations, saying “the situation is too complex to expect a decisive breakthrough after just one meeting”.

Before the meeting, Macron had said: “I don’t believe in spontaneous miracles.”

Defences bolstered

german-troops-return-to-wunstorf-air-base-following-evacuation-missions-in-kabul-wunstorf-germany-august-27-2021-reutersfabian-bimmer German troops returning from evacuation missions in Kabul, August 2021 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Earlier today, Germany said it would send up to 350 more soldiers to Lithuania to help bolster the NATO alliance’s eastern flank.

“We are therefore strengthening our troop contribution on NATO’s eastern flank and sending a clear sign of our resolve to our allies,” the country’s Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said today.

The soldiers will be deployed “within a few days” and the message to allies is “you can rely on us,” the minister said.

Germany currently has 500 soldiers stationed as part of NATO forces in Lithuania.

Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas called the additional troops “an important signal of attention to our region”.

“If Putin thought he will divide the alliance by raising ultimatums, this decision shows us that NATO remains an organisation which is based on solidarity,” he said.

“This is a very adequate reaction to Russia’s behaviour near the borders of Ukraine and in Belarus. We have not seen such a concentration of troops in the entire post-Soviet period.”

Lithuania’s military said today it has raised its readiness status ahead of upcoming military exercises in Belarus involving Russian troops.

Lithuania’s Chief of Defence Valdemaras Rupsys told AFP this was being done “so that we can respond to the changing situation or a possible threat to us and be in the right place with the required capabilities”.

Lithuanian officials have warned that thousands of Russian troops being sent into Belarus for military exercises may stay on after the drills.

The Baltic nation borders both Russia and Belarus.

The boosted German force would make Lithuania Germany’s second biggest deployment after Mali.

Berlin had come under fire over its refusal to send weapons to Ukraine despite repeated requests from Kyiv – its offer instead to dispatch 5,000 helmets was widely ridiculed recently.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2022 and the Press Association.

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