the French connection
Macron says Putin gave him an 'assurance' that there will be no 'escalation' on Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave him a guarantee that Russia would not make any aggressive moves against Ukraine, BBC reports.
"I secured an assurance there would be no deterioration or escalation," Macron said before meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.
Macron spent almost six hours speaking with Putin in Moscow on Monday.
According to The Guardian, however, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov quickly told reporters that no such assurance had been given.
"This is wrong in its essence. Moscow and Paris couldn't do any deals. It's simply impossible," Peskov said.
Per BBC, a French official also told reporters the two presidents "had agreed that Russia would pull troops out of Belarus at the end of exercises taking place near Ukraine's northern borders," a claim Peskov also denied.
In comments he made immediately after his meeting with Putin, Macron did not mention any guarantee from Putin.
"Right now, the tension is increasing, and the risk of destabilization is increasing," Macron said at the time. Macron also said he plans to call Putin after his meeting with Zelensky to brief him on what was discussed.
Putin said it would be possible for Russia to consider "a number" of Macron's "proposals and ideas ... in order to lay a foundation for our further steps."
Putin also argued that if Ukraine is allowed to join NATO, the alliance would be obligated under the terms of the treaty to re-conquer Crimea, which Russia annexed in in 2014. "Do you want France to go to war with Russia? That's what will happen!" he told a French reporter, according to The New York Times.
Russia has massed approximately 130,000 troops on Ukraine's border and is demanding that NATO roll back troop deployments in Eastern Europe and bar Ukraine from membership in the alliance.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that Russia could invade Ukraine "any day now."