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Ukraine high on agenda as Macron meets Putin before G7

Euronews: French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for talks on Monday in the hope he can persuade Russia to return to peace talks over Ukraine. The French leader told a press conference following initial talks that he hoped to agree a “Heads of State” summit to discuss Ukraine in the nearest future.

Emmanuel Macron said:”We will also talk about Ukraine, the Ukrainian crisis, about the choices made by President Zelensky and the position he has taken of late. I know that President Putin has spoken to him several times in recent days. So we can talk about this, prepare for future meetings, and together with Mr Zelensky, Vladimir Putin and Ms Merkel, we will try to consider the possibility of meeting in the Normandy format in a few weeks.”

The French president sees a “real opportunity” for the peace process in Ukraine. He proposes a four-member summit to his Russian colleague – Germany should also take part.

The four-round meeting was officially announced in Normandy format after the location of the first meeting in France. The last such meeting was held in Berlin in 2016. Russia had annexed the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea in 2014 and until today the annexation is not internationally recognized and for almost five years there has been a war initiated by Russia in the east of Ukraine. According to UN figures, more than 13,000 people were killed in the war there.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) will meet his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in the middle of this week. The conflict in Ukraine will also be on the agenda.
In 2014 Russia was excluded from the group of leading industrial nations – then G8 – as a result of its annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea. At the meeting with Macron, Putin did not exclude a return of Russia to today’s G7 group.