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POLITICS

Macron to visit Russian and Ukraine in attempt to calm crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Moscow and Kyiv to meet his counterparts early next week, his office said on Friday, in the highest profile effort by a Western leader to deescalate the Ukraine crisis.

Macron to visit Russian and Ukraine in attempt to calm crisis
Emmanuel Macron will travel to Russia next week. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

Macron will go to Russia on Monday to meet President Vladimir Putin and to Ukraine on Tuesday for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The French president, who has called for a deescalation in the crisis, has over the last days repeatedly held telephone talks with Putin and Zelensky as well as talking to US President Joe Biden.

His office had said late on Thursday after Macron’s latest talks with Putin and Zelensky that the discussions sought “to identify the elements that should lead to a deescalation”.

In a possible nod to Russia’s concerns about NATO expansion and US military presence in eastern Europe, it said exchanges had started on the “strategic balance” in Europe, which should make it possible to see “a reduction in the risks on the ground and guarantee security”.

Western powers have been engaged in intense diplomatic efforts over the last weeks over the build-up of some 100,000 Russian troops close to the border with its pro-EU neighbour raised fears it was planning a new invasion of Ukraine.

Although Ukraine has sought to play down the risk of an invasion, tensions are running high after the US Pentagon said on Thursday it had evidence of a plan by Moscow to film a fake Ukrainian attack on Russians to justify a real assault.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also indicated he plans to visit Russia soon although the timing is not immediately clear.

The French president has over the last years maintained that Europe must keep channels open to talk with Russia.

He has insisted that a “demanding dialogue” is preferable to open confrontation with Moscow in a fast-changing world dominated by the rise of China.

Macron paid his only visit to Russia as president in May 2018 to attend the Saint Petersburg economic forum and meet Putin.

His last face-to-face meeting with the Russian president dates back to a summit in summer 2019 at his residence in the south of France. A planned visit to Moscow in May 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Member comments

    1. The problem is that Macron doesn’t represent NATO or the EU and he’s no good at diplomacy – hence all the difficulties with Mali, Algeria, Morocco, Uk, Jersey, USA, Australia, Poland and Turkey in just the last few months.

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POLITICS

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.

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