Putin Tells Macron In 2-Hour Call: 'Moscow Still Open To Dialogue'
During their two-hour phone call on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron pressed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for an immediate end to the "devastating aggression" in Ukraine, according to an Elysée Palace readout.
While the two talked specifics on Russia allowing "further evacuation of the Azovstal factory" in Mariupol, among the most important items conveyed came from Putin. After last month's Russia-Ukraine delegation talks in Turkey and elsewhere have been at a standstill and dropped out of headlines, Putin stressed that Moscow is still open for dialogue.
Macron and Putin have spoken by phone well over a dozen times since the conflict began in late February. The French leader has said, despite immense criticism for engaging Putin directly, that he hasn't been "satisfied" in terms of results but that he must persist regardless.
"The Russian side is still open to dialogue," Putin told Macron, according to the Kremlin readout.
Among the more interesting and new discussions between the two centered on the impact on the global food supply due to the invasion:
Macron for his part, according to the Kremlin, said global food security was under threat due to the Ukraine conflict.
Putin shot back by saying it's Western sanctions on Russia that are to blame, and underscored "the importance of the unimpeded functioning of the global logistics and transport infrastructure" - but which are being held up due to the West's punitive actions.
The Russian leader also condemned the continuing Western weapons shipments to Kiev, saying, "The West could help put an end to these atrocities by exerting appropriate influence on the Kyiv authorities and by halting arms deliveries to Ukraine."
Macron reportedly again focused on the dire human rights situation, expressing "his deep concern about Mariupol" and the Donbas.
UK intelligence is now saying that Russia finds itself in a weakened position as it fights to take the Donbas region...
NEW: Russia’s military is now “significantly weaker” as a result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: UK Defense Intelligence— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) May 3, 2022
“Recovery from this will be exacerbated by sanctions. This will have a lasting impact on Russia’s ability to deploy conventional military force,” UK assesses
Regarding Donbas and the new phase of the 'special operation' - Putin said that progress "to protect Donbas" has been hindered due in part to the Azovstal plant in Mariupol being "held by the nationalists". He effectively charged the Ukrainian fighters with using the civilians trapped there as human shields.