They have declassified a conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, which shows the irritation of the Russian president. It took place days before the start of the war in Ukraine and shows the tension between the two leaders, writes the newspaper “Figaro”.
The conversation will be broadcast in the documentary “President, Europe and War”, directed by journalist Guy Lagash and giving a diplomatic context for Macron’s last six months at the Elysee Palace. The conversation is a fierce exchange of remarks between the two presidents. Macron is firm in his decisions, but Vladimir Putin does not give up and even gets nervous, telling the French president “Listen to me very carefully.”
We publish the full conversation between the two without editorial intervention, which quotes bTV.
Emmanuel Macron: After our last conversation, the tension continues to grow. You know my desire and determination to continue the dialogue. I want you to tell me how you read this situation and tell me directly – what are your intentions. Then let’s try to find more positive steps.
Vladimir Putin: What can I tell you? You can see for yourself what is happening. You and Chancellor Scholz told me that Zelensky was ready for action. That he is ready to introduce the Minsk agreements. He is lying to you. I don’t know if you heard his statement yesterday that Ukraine should have access to nuclear weapons.
(Diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonn: not anyway)
I also heard you comment on the Minsk agreements at a press conference in Kyiv on February 8. You say that they must be revised in order to be, I quote, ‘applicable’.
(Emmanuel Macron’s advisers: “It’s not true, he didn’t say that,” “I’ll tell him not to get into a more detailed discussion on the subject.”)
Emmanuel Macron: Vladimir, for a start, I have never said that the Minsk agreements should be revised. I did not say that in Berlin, Kyiv or Paris. I said that they should be implemented, respected. This is different from what you said.
Vladimir Putin: Listen, Emmanuel, I don’t understand your problem with the separatists. At least they did everything necessary to have a constructive dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities.
Emmanuel Macron: With respect to what you said, Vladimir, I have a few comments. First, the Minsk agreements are a dialogue for you and you are right. In this sense, we expect a separatist text to be the basis for any discussion. Also, when your negotiator tried to get Ukrainians to discuss these texts from the separatists, he did not respect the Minsk agreements. No separatists will make proposals for Ukrainian laws!
Vladimir Putin: Of course, we have a totally different view of the situation. During our last meeting, I reminded you, and even read to you, paragraphs 9, 11 and 12 of the Minsk agreements.
Emmanuel Macron: I have them in front of me! They are very well written by the government of Ukraine. Paragraph 9 proposes to hold talks with the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as set out in the agreement. This is exactly what we offer. I don’t know where your lawyer studied law. I look at these texts and try to apply them! And I don’t know which lawyer can tell you that in a sovereign state, laws can be proposed by separatist groups, not by democratically elected authorities.
Vladimir Putin (annoyed): This is not a democratically elected government. They came to power in a coup, there were people who were burned alive. It was a bloodbath and Zelenski was responsible for that. Listen to me very carefully: the principle of dialogue is to take into account the opinion of the other party. The proposals exist, the separatists, as you call them, are asking for them to be proposed to the Ukrainian authorities, but they have not received any response. Where is the dialogue?
Emmanuel Macron: We don’t care what the separatists offer. What we want from them is to reach a consensus with the Ukrainians and everything must be done according to the law. What you have just said casts doubt on your understanding of the Minsk agreements when you think you are dealing with illegal and terrorist authorities.
Vladimir Putin: Listen to me (very nervous). Can you hear me well? I tell you again, the separatists reacted to the proposals of the Ukrainian authorities. They replied, but there was no continuation on the Ukrainian side.
Emmanuel Macron: Okay. What I am proposing to you is to arrange a meeting with all stakeholders so that we can move forward. Tomorrow I will ask for this to be done.
But for the past two days, separatists have been reluctant to take part in the discussions. I will immediately ask Zelenski for this. Do we agree with that? If we are, we act and make an appointment tomorrow.
Vladimir Putin: To agree, I must immediately read these proposals. But from the very beginning there had to be pressure on the Ukrainians, but no one wanted to do it.
Emmanuel Macron: You know I will do my best to push them.
Vladimir Putin: I know, but pity has no effect.
Emmanuel Macron: You have to help me a little (with a playful tone). The situation is very tense. I did call Zelenski yesterday asking him to calm down. I will tell him again – to calm everyone down, to calm down on social networks, to calm down the military in Ukraine. But I also think you need to call to reassure the Ukrainian military. There were a lot of bombings yesterday. If we want to give dialogue a chance, we need to calm things down in the region. How do you see the evolution of military training there?
Vladimir Putin: The trainings continue according to plan.
Emmanuel Macron: So they’re going to end tonight, right?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, probably tonight, but we will definitely leave a military presence at the border until the situation in Donbass calms down. The discussion will take place after consultation with military ministers.
Emmanuel Macron: All right, Vladimir. I tell you quite honestly, it is extremely important for me to return this discussion to normal and to avoid tension. What is very important to me and I ask you for this is to keep the situation under control. This is the first point. I count on you. Do not succumb to any provocations in the coming hours and days. I want to make two very specific suggestions to you. First, let’s have a meeting in the next few days in Geneva with you and President Joe Biden. I talked to him on Friday night, asked him if I could make you this offer. President Biden is also considering ways to de-escalate the situation. Tell me the date that suits you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Emmanuel. It is always a great pleasure and honor to talk to my European colleagues, as well as to those in the United States. And it’s always a lot of fun to talk to you because we trust each other. So, Emmanuel, I suggest we turn things around. First, let’s prepare this meeting in advance. Only then will we be able to talk to you.
Emmanuel Macron: But can we tell you today that after this discussion, we agreed on some principles? I want to clarify this issue with you. I want a clear answer from you. I want a face-to-face meeting between you and the Americans. Then we’ll invite the Europeans, okay?
Vladimir Putin: This proposal is worth considering, but if you want it to be well coordinated, let him ask his advisers to hear from you. But I agree in principle.
Emmanuel Macron: Okay, you confirm that you agree. I suggest that our teams try to make a common text, something like a press release to play after this conversation.
Vladimir Putin: Honestly, I wanted to play ice hockey, but I’m here talking to you before I start training. I will call my advisors.
Emmanuel Macron: Anyway, thank you, Vladimir. Will keep in touch. When you have a solution, call me.
Vladimir Putin (in French): Thank you, Mr. President.