French President Emmanuel Macron will attempt to convince Russia to accept Ukraine’s overtures of dialogue when he meets Vladimir Putin for talks on Monday ahead of a G7 summit.
Macron, who hosted his Russian counterpart in grand style at the palace of Versailles in 2017, will this time meet Putin at his official holiday residence in Bregancon in southern France.
The visit comes days before world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, gather for the August 24-26 Group of Seven (G7) summit in Biarritz.
Russia was slung out of what was the G8 in 2014 after it seized Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, an annexation the international community deemed illegal. Shortly after, a war broke out in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists. An estimated 13,000 people have been killed so far.
Macron has taken a keen interest in brokering an end to the conflict and believes that the arrival in power of new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky could give a new impulse to halting the fighting.
Zelensky has offered to meet Putin for face-to-face talks and spoken to him by phone in recent weeks.
“President Zelensky has made offers to which — it seems to us — President Putin should respond in an encouraging way,” said a French official, who asked not to be named.
“The election of President Zelensky gives us some room to manoeuvre,” the official added.