French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Russia’s security concerns when it comes to NATO expansion need to be taken into account in any future peace talks and that the West needs to be prepared to give Moscow guarantees.
“We need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table,” the French leader said in an interview that aired Saturday.
“One of the essential points we must address — as President Putin has always said — is the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia,” Macron added.
Any future peace deal between Russia and Ukraine would require a guarantee that Kyiv will remain neutral and won’t join NATO. Russia made the demand during the lead-up to the invasion, but the US refused to make the promise. Last week, NATO doubled down on its pledge that Ukraine will eventually join the alliance.
Macron’s comments drew an angry response from Ukraine. Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said security guarantees for Moscow would only be possible “after tribunal, conviction of war authors and war criminals” and the “imposition of large-scale reparations.”
Unlike President Biden, Macron has maintained contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin since February. During his visit to Washington last week, where the interview that aired Saturday was recorded, Macron said that he would keep talking with Putin to “try to prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also favored maintaining contacts with Russia and spoke with Putin on Friday. According to the Kremlin, Putin told Scholz that the Western approach to Ukraine was “destructive” and that Germany should rethink the policy.