German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, May 28, asked Russia’s Vladimir Putin to hold “direct serious negotiations” with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

During an 80-minute conversation with the Russian president, the two EU leaders “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops,” the German chancellor’s office said.

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Macron and Scholz urged Putin to have “serious direct negotiations with the Ukrainian president and (find) a diplomatic solution to the conflict.”

Putin warned the two leaders against ramping up arms supplies to Ukraine, saying they could further destabilise the situation in the pro-Western country.

He told Macron and Scholz that the continuing arms supplies to Ukraine were “dangerous”, warning “of the risks of further destabilisation of the situation and aggravation of the humanitarian crisis,” the Kremlin said.

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The German Chancellor and the French President also “called on the Russian President to ensure an improvement in the humanitarian situation of the civilian population” in Ukraine.

The two European leaders “took positive note of the Russian President’s commitment to treat captured fighters in accordance with international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Conventions, and to ensure unhindered access to the International Committee of the Red Cross”.

Macron and Scholz on asked Putin to release 2,500 Ukrainian fighters who were holed up inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and who were taken prisoner by Russia.

“The president of the Republic and the German chancellor asked for the release of some 2,500 defenders of Azovstal made prisoners of war by the Russian forces,” the French presidency said after a telephone call between the three leaders.

The global food supply, which has been hit by Russia’s action in Ukraine, was also discussed.

Putin assured that he “wants to allow the export of grain from Ukraine, especially by sea,” the German chancellery said.

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The three leaders also agreed on the “central role” the United Nations has to play to guarantee exports.

 

 

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