Leaders of Germany and France held a phone call with Vladimir Putin on Saturday, urging the Russian president to agree to an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and withdraw Russian troops from the country, German officials said. officials.
According to the German government news agency, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Putin for 80 minutes “on their initiative”.
“The German Chancellor and the French President called for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops. They called on the Russian president to enter into serious direct negotiations with the Ukrainian president and find a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” the German government said in a statement.
A statement from the French presidential office, the Elysee Palace, said: “Any solution to the war must be negotiated between Moscow and Kiev.”
In the appeal, Macron and Scholz also called for the release of about 2,500 Azovstal defenders taken as prisoners of war by Russian forces, the French readout said, in a reference to Ukrainian troops captured after defending the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol for weeks.
In addition, the two leaders urged Putin to lift the blockade of Odessa to allow the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea in order to avoid a world food crisis, the statement said.
Some context: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are frozen. He also accused Kiev of making “contradictory” statements that Moscow did not understand.
A day earlier, Peskov said Moscow expected Kiev to accept the status quo and comply with its territorial demands, following comments from former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that seemed to suggest Ukraine should agree to take over Crimea. and ceding much of the Donbas region to Russia. †
In a May 23 interview with Reuters, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak ruled out a ceasefire agreement with Russia and said Kiev would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory.