In Moscow, Macron found a different, tougher Putin

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PARIS (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin spent a lot of his marathon talks with France’s Emmanuel Macron this week on the Ukraine disaster reciting grievances that date again to the top of the Cold War, two sources within the French chief’s entourage stated.

In the primary detailed read-out on Monday’s assembly in Moscow from the French delegation, the sources stated Macron had been struck by how totally different Putin was to the person he had met in his summer time residence on the French Riviera three years in the past.

“(Putin) gave him 5 hours of historic revisionism,” stated one of many two sources, describing how the Kremlin chief laid out his perception that the West had damaged commitments to Russia since 1997 with the enlargement of NATO to incorporate former Soviet bloc states.

“So he goes on for hours rewriting historical past from 1997 on. He drowns you in these lengthy monologues. And the president (Macron) stored on going again to the problems of the day,” stated the supply.

The French feedback got here as Russia, which has massed greater than 100,000 troops close to its borders with Ukraine, held navy workouts https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/wrapup-1-russia-starts-belarus-military-drills-amid-new-diplomacy-ukraine-2022-02-10 in neighbouring Belarus and the Black Sea and Western leaders renewed their warnings of a main battle.

“These greater than 5 hours of talks make us realise how totally different the Putin of at present was to the Putin of three years in the past,” stated the supply, who was briefed on the contents of the Macron-Putin talks and spoke on situation of anonymity.

A Kremlin spokesman didn’t reply to questions submitted by Reuters in regards to the French evaluation of Putin’s way of thinking.

‘TOTAL DISREGARD’

Putin himself has spoken of rising frustration at what he calls Western failures to heed Russia’s safety considerations.

“You know, we now have tried to speak to them about avoiding sure actions for 30 years now. What we get in response is complete disregard for our considerations,” the Russian chief stated at a joint information convention with Macron on Monday.

Putin’s personal actions clarify he has change into extra hawkish, together with his crackdown on home opponents, the strain on unbiased journalists, and now the large navy deployment close to Ukraine.

But the Macron assembly marked a uncommon alternative for a Western chief to spend an prolonged time period in Putin’s firm and to gauge, eyeball-to-eyeball, his way of thinking.

For the length of their talks, the French chief, was alone with Putin, with no aides and just one interpreter.

Macron had travelled to Russia to attempt to calm tensions between Russia and Western states over Ukraine. Washington has stated the Kremlin is getting ready for an invasion of its smaller neighbour, although Moscow denies such plans.

According to the primary French supply, Putin returned repeatedly in the course of the talks to the difficulty of the 1997 NATO settlement that paved the way in which for 3 ex-Soviet bloc states – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – to hitch the alliance.

Putin, the sources stated, described the settlement as a betrayal of earlier guarantees from the alliance to not develop. NATO members deny any such guarantees had been ever made.

Putin additionally dwelled on the 2014 Maidan Revolution – which noticed the flight of a pro-Russian chief amid mass avenue protests – and on the 2019 election of Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Ukraine’s president.

“He says it was a coup and that Zelenskiy is managed by the United States,” the primary supply stated.

The election of Zelenskiy, who changed a equally Western-leaning president, was described by displays from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as honest and held with respect for elementary freedoms.

After Monday’s talks, Macron advised his group that when he had hosted Putin in France in 2019, the Kremlin chief had appeared “much less powerful and fewer targeted on historical past” than this time spherical, in line with a second supply.

It was not instantly clear what this evolution in Putin’s way of thinking would possibly spell for Ukraine.

Macron advised reporters as he flew out of Moscow he believed there was a actual prospect for stopping escalation, although he stated it was too early to level to any concrete undertakings from Russia to step again, and there have been nonetheless actual dangers that armed battle might get away.

(Additional reporting by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Gareth Jones)



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