NICE, France (AP) — While most of the world is shunning President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the few leaders keeping an open line of communication is French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron’s diplomatic efforts to prevent the war failed, but he’s not giving up: the two men have spoken four times since Russian forces attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24, and 11 times over the past month.
Macron, whose country holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, is now one of the few outsiders with a view into the mindset of Putin at the time of the largest military invasion [Ukraine] in Europe since World War II. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is also becoming a mediator, meeting Putin on a surprise visit to Moscow on Saturday and speaking with him again by phone on Sunday.
Macron’s relentless push for dialogue reflects France’s post-World War II tradition of carving out its own geopolitical path and its refusal to blindly follow the United States.
After Russian troops pushed deep into Ukraine, Macron’s resolve to maintain communication channels with Putin is providing Western allies with insight into the Russian leader’s state of mind, his intentions on the battlefield and at home in Russia as the Kremlin cracks down on opponents.
“He is keeping a diplomatic channel open for the West in case Putin might want to de-escalate and look for a way out of this crisis,” said Benjamin Haddad, a senior director for Europe at the Atlantic Council in Paris and a member of Macron’s party.
The two leaders address each other through interpreters with the familiar French word for “you” — “tu” — rather than the formal “vous,” an Elysee presidential palace official said after one phone call.
Macron has also spoken to Putin on behalf of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Haddad said, trying to extract some mercy from Putin: local cease-fires, safe passage for trapped civilians and access to humanitarian aid.
Macron keeps an open line to Putin as war in Ukraine rages The Associated Press – en Español