French, German leaders pressure Putin for ceasefire, officials say

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The leaders of Germany and France held a phone call with Vladimir Putin on Saturday in which they pressed the Russian president to agree to an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and withdraw Russian troops from the country, German officials said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Putin for 80 minutes “on their own initiative”, according to the German government’s press office.

“The German Chancellor and the French President called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops. They called on the Russian president to engage in serious direct negotiations with the Ukrainian president and find a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” the German government statement said.

A statement from the French presidential office, the Élysée Palace, said: “Any solution to the war must be negotiated between Moscow and Kyiv.”

In the call, Macron and Scholz also called for the release of about 2,500 Azovstal defenders who were taken prisoner of war by Russian forces, the French reading said, in reference to Ukrainian forces who were captured after defending the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol for weeks.

In addition, the two leaders urged Putin to lift the blockade of Odesa to allow the export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea in order to avoid a global food crisis, according to the statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have been frozen. He also accused Kyiv of making “contradictory” statements that Moscow did not understand.

A day earlier, Peskov said Moscow hopes Kiev will accept the status quo and meet its territorial demands, following comments from former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that appeared to suggest Ukraine has to agree to hand over Crimea and much of it. from the Donbas region to Russia.

In an interview with Reuters on the 23rd, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak ruled out agreeing to a ceasefire with Russia and said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow involving the cession of territory.

Source: CNN Brasil

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