3 Mar 2022 18:19

Putin tells Macron of talks with Kyiv, focuses on Ukraine's demilitarization, neutral status - Kremlin

MOSCOW. March 3 (Interfax) - A frank discussion of the situation around Ukraine was continued during a telephone conversation on Thursday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, the Kremlin stated.

"Putin set out in detail the principled approaches and conditions in the context of the talks with Kyiv's representatives. It was confirmed that [the talks] focused primarily on the demilitarization and neutral status of Ukraine, so that no threat would ever emanate from its territory to the Russian Federation," the statement said.

It was stressed that the "objectives of the special military operation will be fulfilled any way, and that attempts to play for time by dragging out the talks will only lead to our negotiating position presenting Kyiv with further demands," it said.

"It was especially emphasized that during the special operation, which is going to plan, the Russian Armed Forces are doing everything possible to preserve the lives of peaceful citizens. Precision weapons are only being used to destroy military infrastructure. Allegations of rocket attacks and bombardments of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities are inconsistent with reality and are elements of the anti-Russia disinformation campaign," the statement said.

"[Putin] reaffirmed the readiness of the Russian side for interaction with its foreign partners for the purposes of resolving acute humanitarian problems" and "called on the president of France to join efforts to ensure the safe withdrawal of foreign citizens from Ukraine. Thus, he mentioned a large group of Indian students in Kharkiv, who are effectively being held hostage by Ukrainian forces. Emmanuel Macron promised to do the relevant work with Kyiv's leadership," the statement said.

"[Putin] commented in detail on Macron's Address to the Nation yesterday regarding the war in Ukraine, having disagreed with many of its theses. In particular, Emmanuel Macron calling Russia's fight against Nazism in Ukraine a 'lie.' Well-grounded explanations were given regarding the considerable role of neo-Nazis in Kyiv's state policy. It was noted that during its special operation to protect Donbas, Russia intends to continue its uncompromising fight against militants from nationalist armed formations who commit war crimes. These include putting military equipment in residential areas and using the civilian population as human shields," the statement said.

Putin also noted that Macron's "statement did not say a single word about the Ukrainian leaders having sabotaged the Minsk agreements for seven years, nor of how Western countries and France itself have done absolutely nothing to make Kyiv comply with them. Further, there was no mention of the many years of genocide against the peaceful residents of Donbas, which caused many human casualties and forced hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in Russia," the statement said.

The two leaders "agreed to continue contact at varying levels on the issues touched on in the conversation," the Russian president's press service said.

Earlier on Thursday the BFMTV channel reported, citing the Elysee Palace, that Macron spoke by telephone with Putin and then with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to French media, the conversation with Putin lasted 90 minutes.