A day after his five-hour long summit in Moscow with President Putin, France's Emmanuel Macron arrived in Kiev on Tuesday, continuing his push to find a diplomatic settlement to the ongoing Ukraine standoff. Macron said he had received "assurances" from Putin of no more escalation, and the two leaders had agreed to work on the French president's proposals for deescalating the situation.
"I obtained [commitments] that there will be no worsening and escalation," Macron told reporters on the plane while en route to Ukraine. However, as Bloomerg reports, "A French government official said Macron’s remark that Putin assured him of no further escalation was in reference to not massing any further troops near the Ukraine border. But the official added it was a conditional commitment and the situation, and its perception by Putin, could change."
Pour Volodymyr Zelensky, président ukrainien, "Emmanuel Macron fait beaucoup pour préserver la paix" pic.twitter.com/2k0HfRdZ9U— BFMTV (@BFMTV) February 8, 2022
"For me, it was about 'locking the game' in order to prevent an escalation and open up new prospects. For me, this goal has been achieved. France has strengthened its credibility," Macron told a broadcaster.
"We will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone," Macron said further according to France 24. He said that Putin "assured me of his readiness to engage," adding "there is no security for the Europeans if there is no security for Russia."
Macron on Tuesday met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he communicated some of the positive diplomatic momentum gained with Putin. Zelensky in a joint press conference acknowledged that "Emmanuel Macron is doing a lot to preserve peace."
France is "determined to pursue mediation efforts," the Ukrainian leader added. "This shared resolve is the only path" to peace. Macron said during the joint presser that France wants to "reengage in a lasting de-escalation" in the region. Both agreed that "The discussions have made it possible to build this security and stability in the region."
Meanwhile, muscle-flexing continues on both sides. Russia has continued sending forces to Belarus in preparation for major planned joint military exercises coming just days away. At the same time, Ukraine is planning its own 'response' in the form of large-scale drills mirroring that of its rival.
"Ukraine’s armed forces geared up for military exercises in response to Russia’s troop buildup along its borders as French President Emmanuel Macron shuttled from Moscow to Kyiv on Tuesday in an attempt to ease tensions and avert a conflict," The Wall Street Journal describes.
Ukraine launches military drills along Russia and Belarus borders to “mirror” Russian war games as Macron arrives in Kyiv for talks with Zelensky. People are getting more and more nervous in Ukraine. https://t.co/EMZi0fVEYU— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) February 8, 2022
"In a television interview late Monday, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said soldiers would conduct maneuvers and training with antitank weapons newly supplied by the U.S. and U.K., as well as Turkish armed drones," the report adds. "Mr. Reznikov didn’t disclose the scale of the drills, but said they would begin Feb. 10, the date Russia has said it intends to hold joint exercises with ally Belarus near Ukraine’s northern border, and last for more than a week."
On Monday Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the US has intelligence showing Russia's troop build-up near Ukraine is now "north of 100,000".