Russia and Ukraine ask for dialogue in the face of intensification of hostilities, after a meeting between Macron and Putin

Russia and Ukraine called on Sunday for diplomatic efforts to be stepped up to prevent a war, but exchanged accusations about responsibility for the escalation of hostilities on the front line separating the ukrainian territory from areas controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

After the French president, Emmanuel Macronhad a long telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin and then with the Ukrainian, Volodymyr ZelenskyBoth Moscow and Kiev advocated more dialogue.

Western countries led by United States accuse Russia stationing more than 150,000 soldiers on the border of Ukraine to launch an attack, and Washington routinely reiterates that the invasion could come “at any time”.

The French presidency described the talks this Sunday as one of “the last possible and necessary efforts to avoid a major conflict in Ukraine.”

These exchanges come amid rising hostilities in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists who have risen up against Kiev are waging a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people since 2014.

Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkenreplied that the president of the United States, Joe Bidenis willing to “meet” with Putin, “at any time, in any format if it helps prevent a war.”

During the conversation with Macron, which lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes, Putin on Sunday blamed “provocations” by the Ukrainian government for the escalation in fighting with separatists in the east of that country, the Kremlin reported.

Putin also called for the NATO The US and the United States “take seriously” Russia’s security demands, such as the withdrawal of its military infrastructure from Eastern Europe and a veto of Ukraine’s entry into the transatlantic alliance.

Finally, the Russian presidency reported that both leaders “agreed that it was convenient to intensify the search for solutions through diplomatic channels.”

The Elysee Palace reported that the two leaders agreed on “the need to give priority to a diplomatic solution to the current crisis and to do everything possible to achieve it.”

An “immediate” ceasefire

After the call with Macron, Zelensky called for an “immediate” ceasefire and called for an urgent meeting of the trilateral contact group that includes Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The OSCE called an emergency meeting for Monday.

These diplomatic contacts come after fears that the conflict could escalate dominated the first part of the day.

Just before the call between Macron and Putin, Belarus announced on Sunday that it will continue joint military exercises with Russia on its territory, near the border with Ukraine.

The stay of Russian troops on Belarusian territory just when they were scheduled to return to their country fueled fears in Western countries that Russia would invade Ukraine and was criticized by the opposition in Minsk.

Moscow had announced that its troops would withdraw from Belarus this Sunday, after a series of military exercises.

artillery in the front

On the front line that separates the Kiev forces from the separatist troops, on Saturday night, AFP correspondents heard artillery explosions.

In Zolote, a border town in the Luhansk region, an AFP journalist found residents seeking shelter in a rudimentary basement.

“These weeks the artillery fire began to fall with more force. Now it continues,” he explained. Oleksiy Kovalenkoa 33-year-old man who said that they do not have water.

In tune with the tone of the United States and NATO, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnsonaffirmed for his part that Russia is preparing what could constitute “the biggest war in Europe since 1945”.

He also warned that the invasion would not only attack Ukraine from the east, but also from the north, from Belarus to “surround Kiev,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

Meanwhile, the president of the European Council, the Belgian Charles Michaelsaid on Sunday that Western countries cannot “offer an olive branch indefinitely while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to build up troops” on the Ukrainian border.

The insurgents accused Kiev of wanting to attack them and announced a “general mobilization” of all men in a state of combat.

They also ordered an evacuation of civilians to neighboring regions of Russia, a possible prelude to a conflict.

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