Talks between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron took place on Monday, February 7, in the Kremlin. The conversation between the two leaders lasted more than five hours, during which they discussed security guarantees, relations between Russia and Ukraine, and tried to find a common understanding of the indivisible security notion.
Agreement on Security Guarantees
First of all, Putin thanked Macron for his active participation in making important decisions in the field of security.
“Of course, I understand that we have a common concern about what is happening in the security sphere in Europe, and I want to thank you for the fact that France always takes an active part in developing fundamental decisions in this area […] It is symbolic that we are meeting today because exactly 30 years ago a fundamental document was signed, an agreement on special relations between Russia and France […] This dialogue is necessary because it is the only thing that allows us to maintain true stability and security on the European continent,” Putin noted.
However, the Russian President recalled that the US and NATO ignored the key points of the Russian proposals on security guarantees, although there is not a single point in them that Moscow considers impossible. The Russian leader stressed that in the event of a military conflict between Moscow and NATO, there will be no winners, and Europe may be drawn into a conflict with Russia if Ukraine becomes a member of NATO and gathers to resolve the issue of Crimea by military means.
“Do you want France to go to war with Russia? But that’s how it will be!” the President warned.
The potential of NATO and Moscow is not comparable, he admitted, though the Russian Federation is one of the leading nuclear powers.
“There will be no winners,” Putin stated.
He expressed categorical denial of the expansion of NATO at the expense of new members in the east because it poses a common threat – the further spread of NATO to the Russian borders.
“We are not moving towards NATO, but NATO is moving towards us. Therefore, to say that Russia is behaving aggressively, at least, does not correspond to sound logic,” Putin noted.
He also pointed out that the Baltic countries and other states which are Russia’s neighbours allegedly feel in danger, though the reason for it “is not very clear.”
“In any case, this is used as a thesis in order to build an unfriendly policy towards Russia,” Putin said.
Besides, the leader criticized NATO’s “open door” policy.
“The policy of ‘open doors’ is quite free, needed exclusively by the US, and, perhaps, by individual NATO members, an interpretation of the fundamental principle of equal and indivisible security fixed in many pan-European documents,” Putin said.
He recalled that this principle “includes an obligation not to strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of other states.”
Nevertheless, Moscow does not want such a development of events and will strive to find compromises that would suit everyone, the Russian leader assured. He promised that Russia will prepare and send its response to the documents received from Washington and Brussels.
In addition, Putin said that Russia and the West can continue negotiations on security guarantees, taking into account a number of ideas of President Macron.
“A number of his ideas and proposals, which are still too early to talk about, I still think are quite possible to be put on the basis of our further joint steps,” the Russian President said.
Putin: Ukraine must follow Minsk agreements if it likes them or not
Putin also stressed that there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements to resolve the situation in Ukraine, and Kiev will have to “take courage”, recognize what is written, and work.
“You like it or you don’t, just stand it! It must be fulfilled, it won’t work any other way,” Putin said.
He recalled that the current leadership of Ukraine went to the elections under the slogan of resolving the issue in Donbass peacefully.
“I really hope that this will be done at the end when the understanding comes that it is impossible to be done otherwise,” the President added.
At the same time, according to him, there are no guarantees that Kiev will not attempt to implement a military scenario once again.
“After all, they have already tried twice. Who guarantees there will be no third time?” he asked.
Speaking about the accusations of the West against Moscow regarding the concentration of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine, Putin drew attention to the symmetrical actions of Kiev.
“Didn’t Ukraine concentrate [a large grouping of troops]? The same 100 thousand or 125 thousand people are concentrated there, in Donbass,” Putin said.
Macron also confirmed that he sees no alternative to the Minsk agreements, and promised to remind his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, with whom he plans to hold talks on Tuesday, February 8, in Kiev, of the need to follow them. After this trip, Putin and Macron agreed to call and exchange views on the situation.