Vladimir Putin needs “security guarantees” from the West in order for a peace deal to be negotiated in Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron has said, provoking outrage from Kyiv.
In a French television interview following a visit to the United States, Mr Macron said his Russian counterpart remains worried about Nato expansion and this needs to be addressed as part of talks to end the war in Ukraine.
“This means that one of the essential points we must address – as President Putin has always said – is the fear that Nato comes right up to its doors and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia,” he said.
“That topic will be part of the topics for peace, so we need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table.”
Kyiv immediately criticised Mr Macron for advocating making concessions to the Kremlin.
“Someone wants to provide security guarantees to a terrorist and killer state?” said Oleksiy Danilov, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s national security chief.
Referring to the post-World War II tribunals, he added: “Instead of Nuremberg – to sign an agreement with Russia and shake hands?”
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said the “civilised world needs ‘security guarantees’ from the barbaric intentions of post-Putin Russia”.
Ukraine rejects the suggestion that the Kremlin should be given any concessions 10 months into the invasion.
Leaders in Kyiv similarly maintain negotiations will only be possible if and when Russia withdraws all of its troops.
David Arakhamia, chief Ukrainian negotiator in the early days of the war, said that in order for Ukraine to begin peace talks, Russia would need to “leave the territory of our country, pay reparations; punish all war criminals; voluntarily give up all nuclear weapons”.
Alexander Stubb, the former prime minister of Finland, said he “fundamentally” disagreed with the remarks. “The only security guarantees we should focus on are essentially non-Russian,” he tweeted.
Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s deputy prime minister, yesterday told the Financial Times: “The idea that the Russian invasion of Ukraine can be ended by the West giving security guarantees to Russia is falling into the trap of Putin’s narrative that the West and Ukraine are responsible for this war and Russia is an innocent victim.”