MOSCOW, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the United States’ and NATO’s responses to Russian proposals on security did not address Moscow’s principal concerns, the Kremlin said in a statement on Friday.
Russia earlier sent its strongest signal so far that it is willing to engage with U.S. security proposals and reiterated that it does not want war over Ukraine. The Kremlin said Putin would closely study the proposals and then decide on further action.
French President Emmanuel Macron will try to assess whether Russian President Vladimir Putin wants “consultations or confrontation” over Ukraine when they speak by phone on Friday, France’s foreign minister said.
Moscow has massed troops near Ukraine and sought security guarantees from the West, including a promise that NATO will never allow Russia’s former Soviet neighbour to join.
Speaking to RTL radio, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the West still considered dialogue possible, but the ball was in Putin’s court.
“It is up to Vladimir Putin to say if he wants consultations or confrontation,” Le Drian told RTL radio, asking whether the Russian leader wanted to be a “destabilising power” or would seek de-escalation.
Throughout his five years as France’s president, Macron has sought dialogue with Putin, at times to the irritation of his European Union allies.
Western countries are worried Russia might invade Ukraine though Russia denies planning to do so. Macron said on Tuesday he would seek a clarification of Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine.
Weeks of dialogue between the West and Moscow have produced few results but both sides have left the door open to dialogue although Russia said on Thursday it was clear the United States was not willing to address its main security concerns.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)
Photo – French President Emmanuel Macron seen at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, . EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON