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Macron calls on West to consider security guarantees for Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 2, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

France’s President Emmanuel Macron says the West has to consider how to address Russia’s need for security guarantees in the event of Moscow’s agreement for negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine.

Macron said “one of the essential points” that needs to be addressed is what “President Putin has always said – the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia.”

The remarks, broadcast on Saturday, were made by the French leader in an interview with French TV station TF1 recorded during his state visit to the United States last week. Macron said Europe needs to prepare its future security architecture.

“That topic will be part of the topics for peace, so we need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table.”Macron's remarks about Russia's need for security guarantees was the focus of intensive but failed diplomacy between the West and Russia in the run-up to the war. 

Just weeks before Russia's “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Macron at a joint press conference in Moscow about his country's three security demands: no more NATO enlargement, no missile deployments near its borders, and a scaling back of NATO's military infrastructure in Europe to the 1997 levels. Putin said back then Russia would keep trying to obtain answers from the West to his demands. The United States said at the time the Russian demands were "non-starters."

Paris and Washington have said they are open to talks in principle. US President Joe Biden, however, said he would only talk to his Russian counterpart if Putin showed he was interested in ending the war.

Speaking alongside Macron on Thursday, Biden said the only path to ending the war in Ukraine was the withdrawal of Russian troops. Biden said if Putin seeks to end the war, he is ready to talk with him. On the following day, Putin said he was ready to discuss any potential solution in Ukraine.

Ukraine, however, says negotiations are possible only if Russia stops attacking and pulls out its troops.

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