Macron says new security architecture should provide guarantees for Russia

PARIS, Dec 3 (Reuters) – The West should consider how to meet Russia’s need for security guarantees if President Vladimir Putin agrees to talks to end the war in Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron said in remarks broadcast on Saturday.

In an interview with French broadcaster TF1 recorded during his state visit to the United States last week, Macron said Europe needs to prepare its future security architecture.

“This means that one of the essential points that we need to address – as President Putin has always said – is the fear of NATO coming right up to the doors and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia,” said Macron.

“That topic will be part of the topics of peace, so we have to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states and how we can give guarantees to Russia on the day it returns to the negotiating table.” Macron said.

Russia and the United States have both said this week they are open to talks in principle, although US President Joe Biden said he would only talk to Putin if the Kremlin chief showed he was interested in ending the war. Ukraine says talks are only possible if Russia stops attacking and withdraws its troops.

Many in Ukraine and the West strongly oppose any talks with Putin that would reward him with concessions after nearly 10 months of war, especially as Ukraine has driven Russian forces back from large areas in the past three months.

But Macron’s remarks suggested he was sympathetic to Moscow’s need for security guarantees – a demand that was the focus of intense but failed diplomacy in the run-up to the war.

On February 8, just weeks before Russia’s invasion, Putin said at a joint press conference with Macron in Moscow that Russia would keep trying to get answers from the West to its three main security demands: no more NATO expansion; no missile deployment near its borders; and a reduction of NATO’s military infrastructure in Europe to 1997 levels.

The US said at the time that the Russian demands were “non-starters”.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq, editing by William Maclean

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