President Emmanuel Macron denounced the brutal attack by Russia, which launched an invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and called on the French to “accept to pay the price of freedom” in the face of consequences in Europe.
“I am thinking of our people, who will need strength to face the coming times, to resist uncertainties, sometimes ease or adversity and, united, accept to pay the price of our freedom and our values,” said the head of state French.
“Since the brutal attack launched by Vladimir Putin on February 24, the war has returned a few hours (distance) from our borders, on European soil,” he said.
Emmanuel Macron made these statements after the telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart about sending a mission of experts to the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporozhye, the target of the repeated bombings that Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of.
“Ghosts of the Spirit of Vengeance”
The French president called for a “thought for the Ukrainian people who are heroically resisting the terrible attacks of the Russian army and its auxiliaries.” “Yes, the ghosts of the spirit of revenge, the flagrant violations of the sovereignty of the states, the intolerable contempt for the peoples, the imperialist will reappear from the past to impose themselves in the daily life of our Europe, our neighbors, our friends”, said Emmanuel Macron.
According to the version presented by the Russian presidency on the conduct of this discussion, President Putin said that the “systematic bombing” of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye, which is under the control of Russian troops – attacks for which he again accused Kiev, which in turn accuses Moscow – , creates the risk of a “large-scale catastrophe that could lead to the radioactive contamination of vast territories”.
The two presidents agreed on the need for a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be sent to that plant, the Kremlin also mentions, specifying that the telephone conversation took place at the initiative of Emmanuel Macron.
Putin and Macron “emphasized the importance of urgently sending an IAEA mission to the nuclear power plant, which would allow the assessment of the situation at the scene of the events”, states the presidency in Moscow.
Putin complained to Macron
Also according to the Russian presidency, Putin complained to Macron about the maintenance of obstacles to the export of Russian food products and fertilizers on the international market, despite the agreement signed in Istanbul that allowed the unblocking of Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, an agreement that also provides the resumption of Russian grain and fertilizer exports.
These Russian exports are affected by the suspension of banking and financial exchanges as a result of Western sanctions imposed against Russia after its aggression against Ukraine.
On the other hand, the Kremlin leader reconfirmed during the conversation the invitation sent to the UN and the International Red Cross to visit the Olenivka prison, located in the territory controlled by Russian troops in eastern Ukraine and where more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war died following a missile attack for which Moscow and Kiev also accuse each other.
A statement issued by the Eysee Palace about the Putin-Macron telephone conversation also mentions that the Russian president shared with his French counterpart his concern about the safety of the Zaporizhia plant and agreed to send a mission of IAEA experts to the site.
For his part, Macron conveyed “once again his concern with the risks that the situation at the Zaporizhia power plant implies for nuclear safety and security”, the Elysee Palace emphasizes.
Discussions will continue
Therefore, the two presidents agreed to continue the discussions in the following days, “after discussions between the technical teams and before the deployment of the mission”, the press release of the French presidency also mentions.
According to the Elysee Palace’s version of the discussion between Putin and Macron, the Russian president agreed that both the IAEA and Ukraine should agree on the terms of an agency mission to Zaporozhye before its deployment.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made Kiev’s agreement for an IAEA mission to the Zaporozhye plant conditional on the withdrawal of Russian troops from this plant and the creation of a demilitarized zone around it, conditions rejected by Russia.
The Ukrainian operator of the plant said that it suspects an intention by Moscow to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian energy grid, an operation that would itself be a security risk.