French President Emmanuel Macron is positioning himself as the mediator between Russia and Ukraine for a potential ceasefire agreement.
Macron was the first major Western leader to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russian military actions began. They spoke before the summit — but Macron admitted the phone call didn’t achieve much, “since the Russian President has chosen war”, reported by CNN.
Macron also accused Putin of duplicity, saying he and other European leaders had been discussing “the details of the implementation of the Minsk agreements” with Putin just hours before the Russian President launched the operation, referring to the 2015 pact that established a shaky ceasefire in the region.
“So yes, there was duplicity. Yes, there was a deliberate, conscious choice by President Putin to launch the war when we could still negotiate peace,” Macron said.
“I think it is my responsibility, first of all, to take such initiatives when they are requested by Ukraine, and then, while condemning, while sanctioning, while continuing to decide and act, to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be met, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities for the Ukrainian people,” Macron said a joint news conference Friday in Brussels after an emergency European Union summit.
At the summit on Thursday, EU leaders signed off on a new round of sanctions, described by European Council President Charles Michel as “massive” and “painful” against Russia and Belarus.