Macron visiting Russia in push to deescalate tensions
French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting Russia on Monday in a push to deescalate tensions in the region as concerns rise that Moscow is planning an attack on Ukraine.
Macron told reporters that he was “reasonably optimistic” before his meeting with Putin, according to The Associated Press. He noted, however, that he does not believe “short-term victories” are on the table in this situation.
“We can prevent some things in the short term. I don’t believe in spontaneous miracles. There are lots of tensions, nervousness. That’s also why I decided to start the discussion a few weeks ago,” Macron said.
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, stoking fear of an invasion. Moscow, however, has denied having any such plans.
The Kremlin believes that while Putin’s meeting with Macron is important, it is unlikely to bring any breakthroughs.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he expected “a very substantive and lengthy conversation,” but added “the situation is too complex to expect a decisive breakthrough after just one meeting,” according to The New York Times.
He said “the atmosphere has remained tense,” noting that the U.S. and allied nations have not moved on Russia’s demands.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday said Russian military forces could invade Ukraine “any day now.”
“We are in the window. Any day now, Russia could take military action against Ukraine or it could be a couple of weeks from now or Russia could choose to take the diplomatic path instead,” Sullivan said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
Russia has demanded that NATO refuse entry to Ukraine and that the U.S. and its allies stop sending weapons to the region and decrease the alliance’s forces in Eastern Europe. The U.S. and NATO, however, have said such requests are non-starters.
The Pentagon last week announced that it was deploying and repositioning more than 3,000 troops to support Eastern European allies and bolster NATO’s capabilities in the region, with dozens of troops arriving in Poland over the weekend.
Macron’s meeting with Putin comes the same day President Biden is set to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House. Biden administration officials said the two leaders will “discuss their shared commitment to ongoing diplomacy and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine,” as well as their cooperation on other matters.
Macron spoke with President Biden on Sunday. The two presidents “discussed ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts in response to Russia’s continued military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, and affirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to the White House.