French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday, one day after engaging in more than five hours of dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday to discuss the increased tensions between Moscow and Kyiv, according to The Associated Press. Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, raising fears among the U.S. and other allies that Moscow may be planning a military incursion against Ukraine.
Russia, however, has denied having any plans to invade the former Soviet state.
U.S. military and intelligence officials are now saying Russia has assembled 70 percent of the military forces necessary to launch an invasion of Ukraine that could lead to tens of thousands of civilian deaths and millions of refugees.
The U.S. and its allies have engaged in diplomatic talks with Russia for weeks, though no breakthroughs have been reached. Moscow is demanding that the U.S. and its allies block Ukraine from joining NATO, stop dispatching weapons to the region and decrease its forces in Eastern Europe – the requests, however, have been labeled nonstarters by the U.S. and NATO.
Tuesday’s meeting between Macron and Zelensky came one day after the French president met with Putin in Russia. While no breakthroughs were achieved, Putin said some proposals and ideas set forth by Macron “are possible as a basis for further steps.”
“We will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone,” he added, according to France 24.
Macron, after the meeting, said Putin “assured me of his readiness to engage,” adding “there is no security for the Europeans if there is no security for Russia.”
Macron spoke with President Biden on Sunday ahead of his two high-stakes meetings. The White House in a statement said the two leaders “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.”
“They agreed their teams will remain in touch and continue consulting with our Allies and partners, including Ukraine,” the White House added.