Putin, Macron agree on chances of Ukraine talks but differ on Syria

Clay Curtis
August 20, 2019

At a meeting with Macron, the heads of state discussed rallies in Moscow, the war with Ukraine, Russia's return to the G8, and other global problems.

On Ukraine, Putin said that "there are a number of issues that we need to agree on.But, in my opinion, there is no alternative to the Normandy format".

The rallies, which come amid declining living standards and a stagnating economy, are Russia's largest since mass protests broke out when President Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin after a term as prime minister in 2012.

The meeting comes after Zelenskiy earlier this month urged Putin to help halt the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.

On Syria, Macron said the ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, a city in northwestern Syria, must be respected and he will discuss the constitutional process in Syria with Putin. Several people were killed and injured, though the exact toll is unclear.

France holds the presidency of the G7 this year.

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"We wouldn't want such events to take place in the Russian capital and will do all we can to ensure our domestic political situation evolves strictly in the framework of the law", he added.

Putin, in his turn, said there were "grounds for cautious optimism" regarding chances of peace in eastern Ukraine.

Macron reasoned: "It's not today that we are going to resolve misunderstandings that were installed back in the 90s".

While initially, Putin ignored the comment, he was quick to retort after a follow-up question on the Moscow protests saying things were being handled in line with the law, but that he didn't want the situation to develop like in France.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says there is no threat from a deadly explosion at a secretive naval weapons testing range that has prompted worldwide concern about radiation leaks.

The two leaders addressed the media ahead of talks at Fort de Brégançon, a medieval fortress and the President's retreat off the French Mediterranean coast.

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