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‘Always respect Russia,’ Macron urges

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French president has pledged to continue talking to Putin despite a “historic mistake” by the Russian leader

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that dialogue with Russia should always be based on respect for it “as a country”.

Speaking on Monday during his first engagement as a presidential candidate, Macron dedicated a part of his speech to the Russian attack on Ukraine, which he called a “historic mistake.

To combat a brotherly people and to wish to destroy and to humiliate it with the worst means, this is a historic mistake,” Macron said.

Nevertheless, the French president, who remains one of the few Western leaders that regularly speaks to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressed the need to continue the dialogue, arguing that “there is no lasting peace if Russia is not engaged in a great architecture of peace on our continent.”

It is important to “always respect Russia as a country and Russian people,” Macron added, arguing that the paramount goal of the international community is now “to avoid the escalation and expansion of the war.”

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Emmanuel Macron, centre, Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, in Paris, France, Dec. 9, 2019.
Putin talks to Macron on Ukraine

The French president is apparently not very optimistic, however, about the prospect of de-escalating the conflict.

I am being clear: in the short term, war is likely to continue,” he said, expressing doubts that “in the days and weeks to come” there would be some sort of “negotiated solution.”

He admitted that negotiating with his Russian counterpart is “difficult,” because Putin “refuses to cease fire,” and this is “a prerequisite” for the start of the “real dialogue” between Moscow and Kiev.

Meanwhile, Russia accuses Ukrainian “nationalists” of using locals as “a human shield.” The stated goals of Moscow’s “special military operation” is to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine, to protect Donbass and to defend Russia’s own security. The West responded to the attack by imposing harsh sanctions on Russia.

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