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France’s Macron urged halt to all Ukraine attacks during call with Putin

PARIS >> President Emmanuel Macron of France reiterated calls today for an immediate cease-fire in a phone conversation with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and urged an end to all attacks on civilians and essential infrastructure, according to the French presidency.

In the call, which lasted an hour and a half, Macron “reiterated the request of the international community to stop the Russian offensive against Ukraine, and reaffirmed the need to implement an immediate cease-fire,” the Élysée Palace said in a statement. The palace said the call took place in the afternoon, before face-to-face talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Belarus began.

Macron asked for an end to all strikes and attacks against civilians, residential areas and civilian infrastructure, as well as the “securing of main roadways, in particular the route south of Kyiv,” the presidency said, adding that Putin had “confirmed his willingness to commit” to those points. Russia has not halted its attacks in Ukraine, which said Monday that dozens of people were killed in a Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

A readout of the call published by the Kremlin said that “Mr. Putin stressed that such a settlement is only possible with unconditional consideration of Russia’s legitimate security interests, including the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, demilitarization and denazification of the Ukrainian state and ensuring its neutral status.”

The Kremlin said that the Russian side is open to negotiations with representatives of Ukraine and expects that they will lead to the desired results.

Macron and Putin agreed to stay in touch over the next few days “to prevent the situation from getting worse,” the presidency said.

Macron also spoke to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine several times over the past few hours, partly to keep the Ukrainian leader informed of his call with Putin, the French presidency said.

Macron “praised the sense of responsibility of the Ukrainian president in view of the negotiations that are beginning and at a time when Ukraine is being attacked by Russia,” the presidency said.

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