Macron defends Putin’s solution to establish peace in Ukraine

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Macron defends Putin’s solution to establish peace in Ukraine

A day after spending more than five hours at the table with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, French President Emmanuel Macron defended in Kiev on Tuesday (8) that the only way to negotiate a peace in eastern Ukraine is precisely the one defended for years by your Russian counterpart.

“The Minsk Accords are the only way that will allow us to establish peace, the only way to find a lasting political solution,” Macron told a news conference with his colleague Volodymyr Zelensky in the Ukrainian capital.

This is not a capitulation to the more general terms that Putin has established for the security crisis in Eastern Europe, rejected by the US and NATO, the western military alliance of which Paris is a part. But it is a sign that the military pressure exerted by the Russian in recent months may begin to bear fruit.

Zelensky, a fragile president due to his anti-political origins as a comedian and without much popular support, did not in fact issue a receipt to the Frenchman, whom he received at a table considerably smaller than the mobile oppressor who had separated Putin from Macron the day before. But he said that “we are waiting for an opportunity to meet the Normandy Quartet at the level of heads of state”.

In other words, he asked for a meeting with Putin, Macron and the German Chancellor (Prime Minister), Olaf Scholz, the architects of this negotiation format that has taken place since 2014, when the first version of the Minsk Accords was drawn up.

It failed to end the civil war in Donbass (eastern Ukraine), however, leading to a second text, which lowered the military boil but was never fully settled by Kiev resistance: the arrangement provides that areas dominated eight years ago by pro-separatists -Russia are left with Ukraine, but with an autonomous status.

In recent years, Putin has insisted on implementing this version, which in practice will achieve his strategic objective of keeping Ukraine from joining NATO — the alliance does not accept members with such serious territorial disputes, and Kiev had already lost Crimea to Putin in the last few years. even 2014, when the Russian reacted to the fall of the pro-Kremlin government in the country.

Since November, Russia has been massing troops and equipment near Ukrainian borders, raising Western fears of an invasion it says it does not want to carry out. In any case, the mobilization made it clear to NATO that action could take place, which is enough of an instrument of pressure.

The West, the US and NATO at the forefront, continue to reject Putin’s demands to prevent the expansion of the military club and the inclusion of Ukraine. These are demands made not to be accepted, opening the door to other concessions, and perhaps Macron has given the password. Or else the pessimists are right and the Russian can go to pieces.

The signs are still plentiful. Also on Tuesday, three Russian amphibious assault ships that were in the Mediterranean began crossing the Bosphorus Strait, heading for the Black Sea and the contested waters of Crimea for a naval exercise. Another three vessels of the same type will do the same on the fourth.

With that, the Western fear of a limited war scenario in which Putin does not try to conquer all of Ukraine, a bad idea in many respects, but rather to establish an overland corridor between the rebel areas and Crimea, passing through the ports of Mariupol and Odessa gains tinges of verisimilitude with the presence of ships tailored for the mission in the region.

It could be all bluff. In Belarus, where 30,000 Russian soldiers are training with the local dictatorship’s allies, there is similar concern from Ukrainians and NATO. On Tuesday, however, the Russian Defense Ministry said that everyone will return to their country after the maneuvers.

With the move, Macron seeks to fill the European vacuum left by the departure of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and after the attempt so far frustrated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson (United Kingdom) to play such a role.

Diplomatically, however, he runs the risk of being seen as a transmission link for the Kremlin’s will to Ukraine. Even a statement by his team in Kiev that Putin had pledged not to carry out any more military exercises had to be corrected after the Kremlin refused.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the United States for the time being keeps the temperature high in the field of confrontation, in contrast to the more ambiguous approach of the Europeans. On Monday (7), President Joe Biden had said alongside Scholz that the main Russian energy project in Europe, a gas pipeline linking Putin’s country to Germany, would end in the event of war.

In the middle of it all is Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian who heads NATO. In an interview with CNN, he minced words, with one foot in pessimism. “There is no certainty [acerca da invasão], but what we see is a continuous military escalation, with more and more forces. The time for alerts is running out, and the risk of an attack is growing,” he said.

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