US still believes Russian military convoy outside Kyiv is “stagnant”, senior US defense official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that he would continue military operations in Ukraine during a 90-minute phone call initiated by Putin, an Élysée Palace source told reporters. at Thursday’s briefing.

A source from the Élysée said: “This conversation is unfortunately an opportunity to hear that President Putin will continue to intervene militarily and will go to the end.
“[The call] allow the President of the Republic to return to the disagreements we have with Russia, plead for a diplomatic alternative to military operations, tell the truth to President Putin about how we view his war in Ukraine as well as the consequences it will cause. Russia in the long term,” the source continued.

The Élysée source said “the worst is yet to come” in Ukraine following Macron’s phone call with Putin.

“If we don’t make predictions, we should expect the worst to happen yet. The president (of France) said the same thing yesterday. There is nothing in what Putin said today that can make us feel worse. We can rest assured,” the source said.

Meanwhile, Russia’s state news agency TASS said Putin and Macron had “frankly exchanged views on the situation surrounding Ukraine,” the Kremlin’s press service said on Thursday.

A Kremlin compilation from Russia’s state news agency RIA-Novosti said the discussion was difficult, with Putin accusing Ukraine of carrying out “seven-year acts of sabotage” on the Minsk agreements. , a peace process was concluded by the Russian government. in the recent recognition of two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine.

The two sides agreed to leave the door open for dialogue, according to both the Russians and the French.

The RIA report added that Putin has warned the West that if the Russia-Ukraine talks drag on, Moscow will have new demands on Kyiv, and the tasks of a “special military operation” special” – the Russian call for the war in Ukraine – will be implemented. in any case.

According to Élysée sources, Putin also denied shelling Kyiv and warned that the situation would worsen, but that it was Ukraine’s fault.

In response, Macron warned Putin that he was making a big mistake, according to the source. Macron reiterated that Moscow’s demand to neutralize and disarm Ukraine is unacceptable and that the responsibility of this conflict rests solely with Putin.

But Macron also thinks there is still time for diplomacy and dialogue to address Russia’s concerns and include Russia’s interests; however, the discussion cannot take place “under Russia’s control” and must be organized by international partners, according to the source.

Macron also asked Putin to respect the Ukrainian president, his family, relatives, state officials and elected representatives, according to the source.

After the phone call with Putin, Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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