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Macron prepares a new diplomatic impulse for Ukraine

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PARIS — Emmanuel Macron speaks of “combat diplomacy”. The French president has pledged to do everything possible to support Ukraine, in particular by organizing an international conference on Tuesday to help the country get through the winter.

In the longer term, he believes talks with Russia will be needed to find a path to peace.

Tuesday’s international donors’ conference in Paris aims to provide Kyiv with immediate aid, both in funding and equipment. It comes in response to Russian war operations in recent weeks which have focused on civilian infrastructure and aim to “make the civilian population lose hope”, according to Macron.

The French president has championed tougher sanctions against Moscow since the start of the war and has remained in regular contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

On Sunday, the couple spoke by telephone to prepare for the Paris conference which will bring together representatives from dozens of countries and will focus on priority needs, including access to electricity, heating and water.

Yet Macron has also been criticized in recent months by Ukraine and some other European countries who believe he has not kept enough distance from the Kremlin.

Macron is one of the few Western leaders to have maintained contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as part of a long-term geopolitical strategy.

He repeatedly said he would talk to Putin whenever necessary to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

More recently, he said he would soon talk to him about the safety of Ukrainian nuclear power plants, in particular the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe.

Ultimately, it will take negotiations with Russia, Macron says. He also insisted that the terms of any talks must be decided by the Ukrainians themselves.

The French leader’s latest remarks on the issue earlier this month drew criticism in Kyiv and the Baltic states.

Macron told French television TF1 that the West should prepare for possible talks to end the war and seek an agreement that would include “how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table. “.

Critics say it is Ukraine that needs security guarantees, not Russia.

First elected in 2017, Macron has sought to play a key role in global diplomacy.

In April, he was re-elected for a second term, strengthening his position as an influential player in Europe.

Macron also held the rotating presidency of the European Union during the first half of this year. He has largely focused his efforts on boosting the EU’s defense capability, as the security of the bloc’s 27 member countries still largely depends on the United States and NATO.

France has provided significant humanitarian, financial and military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor last February. The French government also sent its troops to strengthen the defenses of Europe on its eastern flank.

Macron launched the European Political Community in October, a new forum aimed at boosting security and prosperity across the continent, bringing together current EU members, potential partners in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, as well as than Great Britain and Turkey.

He continued his diplomatic activism during his recent state visit to the United States, where he spoke at length with President Joe Biden about the situation in Ukraine.

Biden voiced support at the Paris donors’ conference while indicating he would be willing to speak with Putin if the Russian leader demonstrated he was serious about ending the war.

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