On Thursday, March 3, Macron called Putin for the third time since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in an attempt to negotiate peace. A senior French official in Macron’s office reported that Macron made no diplomatic progress with the third call.
The official added that Putin seemed determined to carry out the ongoing war until “the end.” He also told Macron that Russia’s goals in Ukraine would be “fulfilled” and that the war is going “according to plan” despite reports of heavy Russian losses in men and material.
In a statement released after the call, the Kremlin reiterated that its goals are for the demilitarization of Ukraine and for the country to be made completely neutral.
The Russian government reportedly also has a list of demands for Ukraine, and the longer Kyiv attempts to delay negotiations, the more items the Kremlin will add to its list.
“Vladimir Putin outlined in detail the fundamental approaches and conditions in the context of negotiations with representatives of Kyiv. It was confirmed that, first of all, we are talking about the demilitarization and neutral status of Ukraine, so that a threat to the Russian Federation will never emanate from its territory,” read the statement.
“It was emphasized that the tasks of the special military operation will be fulfilled in any event, and attempts to gain time by dragging out negotiations will only lead to additional demands on Kyiv in our negotiating position.”
The statement further claimed that reports of Russian forces bombarding civilian centers, including non-military targets in Kyiv, were part of an “anti-Russian disinformation campaign” and that Russian forces in Ukraine were doing all they can to protect civilians. (Related: Russian ambassador to the UN claims his country does not plan to occupy Ukraine.)
Putin wants to annex all of Ukraine
While Russia’s progress into Ukraine has slowed down significantly due to strong resistance, Russian forces are still slowly inching their way into Ukrainian territory. On Wednesday, March 2, the country captured its first major city, Kherson, near Russian-occupied Crimea, after nearly a week of failing to break Ukrainian resistance in the city.
Russian forces elsewhere in Ukraine have also ramped up their attacks on other major cities, especially Kyiv and the country’s second-largest city of Kharkiv in the northeast.
In the Kremlin statement, it again insisted that Russia has no intention of occupying Ukraine once the “special military operation” achieves its goal of demilitarizing the country. But the senior French official in Macron’s office believes otherwise.
“Our analysis of the military operations is that Russian ambitions are to take control of all of Ukraine,” said the official. He added that nothing is certain about the progress of the Russian invasion, but “we have to expect that the worst is to come. There is nothing in what President Putin said that should reassure us.”
The French official added that Putin gave Macron a lengthy list of grievances and perceived slights from Ukraine and Western countries that the Russian leader claims are what forced him to act. The official said some of the demands Putin made of Macron and Ukraine are just unacceptable.
Macron reportedly told Putin that he was making a “serious mistake” and was “deluding himself” into thinking the invasion of Ukraine is a defensive conflict by “looking for pretexts,” including the assertion that the government in Kyiv was run by Nazis.
He added that innocent Russians who are not responsible for this war will pay very dearly as the economic sanctions against Russia will leave the country weakened, isolated and with no chance of properly recovering “for a very long time.”
It is unclear how Macron will attempt to move forward with his attempts to get Putin to call off the invasion from here. But the French president stressed that his country would keep diplomatic lines open with Russia to allow for communication on different matters regarding the invasion, including organizing the passage of humanitarian aid into Ukraine.
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Learn more about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine at WWIII.news.