Speaking in his first telephone talks in more than a month with re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin said the West could help end the war in Ukraine by putting more pressure on President Volodymyr Zelensky and halting arms deliveries to his forces.
The French President again called for a ceasefire and for talks to end the war brought on by Russia’s invasion. Macron also asked Putin to allow further evacuations in the city of Mariupol.
The city has seen some of the bitterest fighting of the war and hundreds of civilians are believed to still be trapped under the rubble of a steelworks held by Ukrainian forces.
Western states have armed Ukraine extensively in its fight against Russia, and the UK announced a further pledge of military equipment worth £300m (US$376m) including electronic warfare equipment, a radar system, GPS jammers and night-vision devices.
During the presidential conversation, Putin pointed out that the EU member countries ignore the “crimes committed by the Ukrainian forces”, bombarding towns in eastern Ukraine where Moscow-backed separatists control large areas
as well as the massive shelling of cities and communities in the Donbass region resulting in civilian casualties.
“The West could help stop these atrocities by influencing the Kyiv government, as well as stopping arms deliveries to Ukraine,” the Kremlin quoted the Russian President as saying.
Putin also told Macron that Russia “remains open to dialogue” despite all the “inconsistencies in Kyiv’s position” and its “unwillingness” to take this process seriously, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The two presidents have agreed to maintain contact at various levels.
Russia, notably, continues to deny alleged war crimes by its own forces in Ukraine and has blamed the deaths of civilians on what it calls nationalists and “neo-Nazis”, a claim dismissed by Kyiv and the West.
Emmanuel Macron for his part, according to the Kremlin, said global food security was under threat due to the Ukraine conflict.
Putin linked the situation to Western sanctions against Russia and “noted the importance of the unimpeded functioning of the global logistics and transport infrastructure,” the Kremlin said.
Macron is one of the few Western leaders to speak to Putin since Moscow moved troops into Ukraine on February 24, spending hours on telephone calls trying to negotiate a resolution to the conflict.
Meanwhile, Russian forces pounded targets in eastern Ukraine and unleashed rockets on a steel plant that is Ukraine`s last redoubt in the port city of Mariupol.
The conflict has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 13 million, creating the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.