- Russian President Putin said he was ready for compromises over the deadlock in Ukraine.
- Says will examine French leader Macron’s proposals.
- Putin appreciated Macron’s ideas and proposals.
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready for a compromise and would look at French leader Emmanuel Macron’s proposals during Monday’s talks, while still blaming the West for heightening tensions over Ukraine .
After nearly five hours of talking in the Kremlin, the two leaders expressed hope that a solution could be found to the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.
While repeatedly thanking Macron for coming to Moscow, Putin said at a joint press conference that the French leader had presented several ideas worth studying.
“Some of his ideas, proposals … are possible as a basis for further steps,” Putin said, adding: “We will do everything we can to find compromises that are suitable for everyone.”
He gave no details, but said the two leaders would speak by phone after Macron met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.
Macron said he was making proposals for “concrete security guarantees” and that Putin had “assured me of his willingness to participate”.
The French presidency said the proposals included a commitment by both sides not to take any new military action, the launch of a new strategic dialogue and efforts to revive the Ukrainian peace process.
Putin again denied that Russia acted aggressively, despite Western fears of a possible invasion of Ukraine after Russia gathered tens of thousands of troops on its borders.
“It is not us who are heading for NATO’s borders,” he said, referring to the deployment of alliances in Eastern Europe.
– Biden threatens gas pipeline –
The Moscow meeting kicked off a week of intense diplomacy over the crisis in Ukraine, with US President Joe Biden also hosting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington on Monday.
Biden made a categorical vow during the talks to shut down Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe if Moscow launches an invasion.
“If Russia invades — that means again tanks or troops crossing the border into Ukraine — then there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2,” Biden told a joint White House press conference with Scholz, after bilateral talks in the Oval Office . †
“I promise you,” Biden said, “we will put an end to it.”
US officials say Moscow has gathered 110,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and is on track to muster a force large enough — some 150,000 soldiers — for a large-scale invasion by mid-February.
Russia insists it has no plans to attack and has instead put forward its own demands for security guarantees.
It demands a permanent ban on Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, from joining the US-led alliance and for the bloc to roll back its military presence in Eastern Europe.
Macron, whose country currently leads the European Union, has sought to position himself as the key EU figure in negotiations with Russia.
– to deploy British, German troops –
Germany’s new government has been criticized by Ukraine and some in the United States over accusations that it is not fully participating in US-led efforts to reduce Russian military pressure on Ukraine.
But Biden and Scholz in Washington insisted there were no disagreements over how to deal with Moscow.
“We are working closely together to further deter Russian aggression in Europe,” Biden said in the White House Oval Office.
“We are close allies and we are acting in a coordinated and united manner when it comes to responding to the current crises,” Scholz told reporters earlier Monday, saying Russia would pay “a very high price” if it attacks Ukraine. .
Biden has responded to Russia’s troop build-up by offering 3,000 US troops to bolster NATO’s eastern flank, with a group of troops arriving in Poland on Sunday.
Britain said on Monday that 350 more British troops would be sent to the Polish border and Germany announced another 350 of its soldiers would go to Lithuania.
While Scholz is in Washington, his foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, was in Kiev with her Czech, Slovak and Austrian colleagues for a two-day visit.
Scholz himself will be in Moscow and Kiev next week for talks with Putin and Zelensky.
British foreign and defense ministers are also expected to visit Moscow at the end of this week.