Kremlin says Macron does not have influence to make deal with Putin

Kremlin takes a swipe at Macron, saying he does not have enough influence to make a deal with Putin after the French leader made ‘private promises’ over Ukraine which were not agreed with NATO

  • Emmanuel Macon boasted Putin had assured him of a de-escalation of tensions
  • The Kremlin has ridiculed his claims, saying Macron does not have the authority 
  • Britain is also said to be concerned about Macron’s ‘private promises’ 

The Kremlin has ridiculed Emmanuel Macron’s claims that he struck an agreement with Vladimir Putin for a de-escalation of tensions with Ukraine.

The French president has positioned himself as a potential peacemaker and proudly boasted he had made ‘private promises’ with the Russian leader, which had not been sanctioned by NATO, after their meeting in Moscow on Monday.

Macron said Putin had assured him he ‘won’t be initiating an escalation’, before jetting off to Ukraine for a meeting with president Volodymyr Zelensky on the next leg of his diplomatic tour.

But Russia has now slapped Macron down, saying he does not have enough influence or authority to negotiate any deals unilaterally.

Britain is also said to be concerned about the Frenchman’s intervention, with government sources telling the Mail he ‘hasn’t consulted with anyone’ about his peace bid.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected that Putin had made any promises, saying: ‘This is wrong in its essence. Moscow and Paris couldn’t do any deals. It’s simply impossible.

‘France is a leading country in the EU, France is a member of NATO, but Paris is not the leader there. In this bloc, a very different country is in charge. So what deals can we talk about?’ 

The Kremlin has ridiculed Emmanuel Macron’s claims that he struck an agreement with Vladimir Putin for a de-escalation of tensions with Ukraine

The French president proudly boasted he had made ‘private promises’ with the Russian leader during talks on Monday

During Macron’s meeting with Putin, the pair sat at either end of a 16ft table due to Covid measures, as they washed down the finest cuisine with vintage wines

Macron’s apparent failure to consult allies ahead of the talks with Putin could render any agreement meaningless, sources say. 

His offers included Ukraine becoming neutral, a move that would rule out the former Soviet republic joining NATO. 

Zelensky also expressed skepticism about Putin’s alleged promises, saying: ‘I do not really trust words. I believe that every politician can be transparent by taking concrete steps.’

During Macron’s meeting with Putin, the pair sat at either end of a 16ft table due to Covid measures, as they washed down the finest cuisine with vintage wines. 

Macron, who is up for re-election in April, flew from Moscow to Kiev yesterday to meet Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for talks at a much more modest table.

French President Emmanuel Macron met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, Ukraine on Tuesday

He sat down with the Ukrainian leader at a smaller table than he did in Russia with Vladimir Putin

Repeatedly thanking Macron for coming to Moscow, Putin said at a joint press conference that the French leader had presented several ideas worth studying

‘A number of his ideas, proposals… are possible as a basis for further steps,’ Putin said, adding: ‘We will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone’ 

Emmanuel Macron is hoping to defuse tensions over Ukraine amid fears that Russia is poised to invade the country 

Last night, a senior Government source told the Mail that President Macron ‘hasn’t consulted with anyone’ about his peace bid.

A source said: ‘He is doing his own thing, we don’t know what’s happening. He’s gone beyond the Nato position. But it is interesting. 

‘We’ll just have to see how it plays out.’ Some 130,000 Russian troops are poised to strike against Ukraine and take Kiev. 

Macron’s neutrality proposal is not supported by Nato or the Ukrainian government.

But following the meeting in Kiev, Macron said he saw the ‘possibility’ for talks with Moscow and Ukraine and ‘concrete, practical solutions’ to prevent war. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron talk to each other during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, listens to Polish President Andrzej Duda during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, right, Feb. 8, 2022 in Berlin

NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battle groups from Estonia and United Kingdom during military training at Central Training Area on February 8, 2022 in Lasna, Estonia

Moscow has massed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, but insists it has no plans to attack.

The EU’s diplomatic chief said Tuesday that Macron’s visit to Russia brought ‘an element of detente’ to the crisis between the West and Moscow over Ukraine, but did not amount to a ‘miracle.’

‘As far as people are willing to sit at the table and talk I think that there is a hope for not going into military confrontation,’ Josep Borrell told reporters at the end of a visit to Washington.

As such, Macron’s visit Monday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was ‘a positive signal’ and ‘a good initiative,’ Borrell added. ‘I think it represents an element of detente.’

The Kremlin wants guarantees from the West that NATO will not accept Ukraine and other former Soviet nations as members, that it halt weapon deployments there and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe – demands the U.S. and NATO reject as nonstarters.

At a news conference after meeting Zelensky, Macron said Putin told him during their more than five-hour session Monday that ‘he won’t be initiating an escalation. I think it is important.’

According to the French president, Putin also said there won’t be any Russian ‘permanent (military) base’ or ‘deployment’ in Belarus, where Russia had sent a large number of troops for war games.

Peskov said withdrawing Russian troops from Belarus after the maneuvers was the plan all along.

Zelensky said he would welcome concrete steps from Putin for de-escalation, adding he didn’t ‘trust words in general.’

Macron also sought to temper expectations.

Service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces drive a military vehicle during tactical drills at a training ground in the Kherson region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released February 7

‘Let’s not be naive,’ he said. ‘Since the beginning of the crisis, France hasn’t been inclined to exaggerate, but at the same time, I don’t believe this crisis can be settled in a few hours, through discussions’

Zelensky called his talks with Macron ‘very fruitful.’

‘We have a common view with President Macron on threats and challenges to the security of Ukraine, of the whole of Europe, of the world in general,’ Zelensky said.

He said France was giving 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in financial aid to Ukraine and helping restore infrastructure in the war-ravaged east of the country.

Western leaders in recent weeks have engaged in high-level talks, and more are planned amid the backdrop of military drills in Russia and Belarus.

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that six amphibious landing ships were moving from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea for exercises and two Tu-22M3 long-range nuclear capable bombers flew another patrol over Belarus.

Macron said he had not expected Putin to make any ‘gestures’ Monday, saying his objective was to ‘prevent an escalation and open new perspectives… That objective is met.’

Macron said Putin ‘set a collective trap’ by initiating the exchange of documents with the U.S. Moscow submitted its demands to Washington in the form of draft agreements that were made public, and insisted on a written response, which was then leaked.

‘In the history of diplomacy, there was never a crisis that has been settled by exchanges of letters which are to be made public afterward,’ he said, adding that’s why he decided to go to Moscow for direct talks.

Macron later flew to Berlin, where he briefed Polish President Andrzej Duda and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said their stance was unified, with a joint goal ‘to prevent a war in Europe.’

In a joint statement, the trio said Germany, France and Poland are ‘united’ in working to keep the peace in Europe in the face of the Ukraine crisis.

‘We are united by the goal of maintaining peace in Europe through diplomacy and clear messages and the shared will to act in unison,’ Scholz told reporters flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron and Poland’s Andrzej Duda.

Putin said after Monday’s meeting that the U.S. and NATO ignored Moscow’s demands, but signaled readiness to continue talking.

U.S. soldiers walk at the tarmac after arriving by a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, Poland February 8, 2022

He also reiterated a warning that NATO membership for Ukraine could trigger a war between Russia and the alliance should Kyiv try to retake the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

NATO, U.S. and European leaders reject the demands that they say challenge NATO’s core principles, like shutting the door to Ukraine or other countries that might seek membership; but they have offered to discuss other Russian security concerns in Europe.

Biden has said any prospect of Ukraine entering NATO ‘in the near term is not very likely,’ but he and other alliance members and NATO itself refuse to rule out Ukraine’s future entry.

Biden met Monday with Scholz, who also will travel to Kyiv and Moscow on Feb. 14-15. They threatened Russia with grave consequences if it invaded, and Biden vowed that the Nord Stream 2 Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline, which has been completed but is not yet operating, will be blocked. Such a move would hurt Russia economically but also cause energy supply problems for Germany.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in an article in The Times, also urged allies to finalise heavy economic sanctions that would take effect if Russia crosses into Ukraine.

He said the U.K. is ready to bolster NATO forces in Latvia and Estonia as he prepared to meet the Lithuanian prime minister in London to show support for the Baltic nations.

Johnson said he was considering dispatching RAF Typhoon fighters and Royal Navy warships to southeastern Europe. Britain said Monday it is sending 350 troops to Poland to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. It already has sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.

More than 100 U.S. military personnel arrived in Romania ahead of a deployment of about 1,000 NATO troops expected in the country in the coming days, Romania’s Defense Minister Vasile Dincu said.

U.S. officials have said that about 1,000 alliance troops will be sent from Germany to Romania, a NATO member since 2004. Romania borders Ukraine to the north. About 1,700 U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne are also going to Poland.

Russia frigate ‘Minsk’ passes through Dardanelles Strait in Canakkale, Turkiye on Tuesday

U.S. officials have portrayed the threat of an invasion of Ukraine as imminent – warnings Moscow has scoffed at, accusing Washington of fueling tensions.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly president was ousted, Moscow annexed Crimea and then backed a separatist insurgency in the east of the country. The fighting between Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces has killed over 14,000 people.

In 2015, France and Germany helped broker a peace deal, known as the Minsk agreements, that ended large-scale hostilities but failed to bring a political settlement of the conflict. 

The Kremlin has repeatedly accused Kyiv of sabotaging the deal, and Ukrainian officials in recent weeks said that implementing it would hurt Ukraine.

After meeting Macron, Putin said without elaboration that some of the French president’s proposals could serve as a basis for a settlement of the separatist conflict, adding that they agreed to speak by phone after Macron’s visit to Kyiv.

Peskov said such a call would take place ‘in the nearest future.’

Macron said both Putin and Zelensky confirmed they were willing to implement the Minsk agreements – ‘the only path allowing to build peace … and find a sustainable political solution.’

Macron also said the presidential advisers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine will meet Thursday in Berlin on the next steps. ‘It will take time to get results,’ he said.

Zelensky was mum on where Ukraine stands on implementing the Minsk agreements and whether he assured Macron that Kyiv is committed to do so, saying only that his country views Thursday’s meeting ‘very positively’ and hoped for a subsequent meeting by the four leaders.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, visiting the front line in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, said she wanted ‘to get an impression of what it means that we still have war in the middle of Europe.’

Germany has given Ukraine about 1.8 billion euros in aid since 2014, part of which is helping those displaced by fighting. 

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