On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron was in Kyiv after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier.
Macron said the Russian president told him that Russia “won’t be initiating an escalation” against Ukraine. “I think it is important,” Macron said.
Putin also had positive things to say about the talks and said that ideas put forward by Macron could be a good basis to build upon. “A number of his ideas, proposals, which are probably still too early to talk about, I think it is quite possible to make the basis of our further joint steps,” he said.
Separately, another French official said Putin told Macron that Russia would stop military maneuvers near Ukraine, but this account was denied by Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the French assertion was “not right.”
The French official also said that Putin agreed its deployments in Belarus wouldn’t be permanent. But Peskov said the plan was always to bring the Russian troops out of Belarus once they completed their drills.
Macron also said Tuesday that both Russia and Ukraine said they are committed to the Minsk agreements, which were signed in 2014 and 2015 to establish a ceasefire in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. “We have now the possibility of advancing negotiations,” Macron said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Under the Minsk agreements, Ukraine agreed to cede autonomy to the separatists in the Donbas, but that hasn’t happened. Implementing the accords could ease tensions in the region, but Ukrainian officials have warned against the move.
Over in Washington, the White House said it was “encouraged” by Macron’s diplomacy in Russia and Ukraine. The US hype over a potential invasion appears to be dying down as Ukrainian officials continue to downplay the threat.