Putin tells Macron he will stop targeting civilians as Ukraine invasion continues
Mon, 28 February 2022, 4:15 pm
Russian president Vladimir Putin told France’s Emmanuel Macron during a phone conference that he would ‘spare civilians’ trying to flee Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainian and Russian delegations were hosted in Belarus for their first talks since last week’s invasion.
French President Emmanuel Macron called on Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to spare civilians in Ukraine, the French leader’s office said in a statement.
Macron’s office said in a statement that in a 90-minute phone call he had asked the Russian leader to stop attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and secure major roadways, in particular the road from the south of Kyiv.
“President Putin confirmed his willingness to make commitments on these three points,” the statement said.
Macron also called on Putin to respect international humanitarian law, and allow aid shipments to reach the population, the statement said.
For his part, Putin stressed that the demilitarisation of Ukraine and Western recognition of Russian sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula were prerequisites to ending fighting in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that a settlement is possible only if Russia’s legitimate security interests are unconditionally taken into account, including the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the demilitarisation and denazification of the Ukrainian state and ensuring its neutral status,” according to a Kremlin readout of the call.
Talks in Belarus
Meanwhile, in Belarus, state news agency Belta said that Ukrainian and Russian delegations had held talks in a villa belonging to Belarusian President Alexandre Loukashenko, near the Belarus/Ukraine border.
Ahead of the negotiations, the Ukrainian presidency had demanded an immediate Russian ceasefire and troop withdrawal.
Kyiv had been initially reluctant to send a delegation to Belarus, given the country’s role in facilitating Russia’s attack on Ukraine by hosting troops and weaponry used for the invasion.
On Sunday, the government in Minsk agreed to allow Moscow to install nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.
President Zelensky was not participating in the talks, which were being led by his Defence Minister, Oleksiï Reznikov and Russian presidential advisor Vladimir Medinsky.
As the talks got under way, at least 11 civilians were killed in Russian shelling on Ukraine’s second most populated city Kharkiv, the regional governor said, adding that dozens more had been injured.
“The Russian enemy is bombing residential areas,” Oleg Sinegubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app, saying that: “As a result of the bombardments that are ongoing, we cannot call on the emergency services… currently there are 11 dead and dozens wounded.”
The Russian economy is reported to be in serious difficulties as a result of international sanctions in response to the crisis.
Many Russian banks have been excluded from the SWIFT bank system, which is used to settle international trade, and the Russian central bank has seen its foreign assets frozen, depriving Moscow of access to these emergency funds.
The ruble lost 30 percent of its value in early trading on Monday.