What Macron told Putin in landmark 20th phone call with Russia president

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President Emmanuel Macron has engaged in repeated dialogue with Russian leader Vladimir Putin leading up to and during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the recently re-elected Mr Macron ended the dialogue after it emerged Moscow’s troops had committed mass atrocities against civilians.

According to a statement from the Elysee, Mr Macron spoke with President Putin on Tuesday – the 20th phone call the two have held since December.

It followed a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday.

In a call that lasted more than two hours, the leader’s discussed the situation in Ukraine at length and its wider impact on the world.

Thousands have been killed and more than 13 million civilians displaced since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February 2022, resulting in the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

What did Macron tell Putin?

Accounts from the Kremlin and the Elysee vary widely.

According to the readout from Russia following the call, President Putin raised the “war crimes” being committed by Ukrainian troops in Russian-controlled regions.

The Kremlin said Mr Macron was warned of the “ignoring by the EU member states of the war crimes of the Ukrainian security forces, massive shelling of cities and towns of Donbass, as a result of which civilians die”.

The statement did not make reference to any specific incidents or locations where the “war crimes” took place.

The Russian readout does not make any reference to the atrocities discovered in Bucha last month when Russian troops withdrew from areas surrounding Kyiv.

Moscow also claimed Russia was still “open to dialogue” in negotiating with Ukraine “despite Kyiv’s inconsistency and unpreparedness for serious work”.

The French version of events said Mr Macron renewed his demand for a ceasefire, and urged President Putin to “to allow the continuation of the evacuations of the Azovstal plant started in recent days, in coordination with humanitarian actors and leaving the choice to the evacuees of their destination, in accordance with international humanitarian law”.

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Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks has been besieged by Russian troops, with Ukrainian soldiers and civilians still trapped inside.

Mr Macron also “called on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a permanent member of the [United Nations] Security Council by putting an end to this devastating aggression”.

He also “expressed his availability” to work with organisations to lift the Russian blockade on Ukrainian food exports via the Black Sea.

The Kremlin’s version of events also addressed this, saying: “The French side expressed concern about the emerging problem of ensuring global food security.

“In this context, Vladimir Putin stressed that the situation in this matter is complicated primarily due to the sanctions measures of Western countries, and noted the importance of the unimpeded functioning of the global logistics and transport infrastructure.”

According to the Kremlin, President Macron and President Putin agreed to keep dialogue open.

However, the French statement did not make any reference to future calls or talks — something that used to be a feature of such statements from the presidential office.

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