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FRENCH POLITICS

Macron and Putin talk Ukraine weapons supply in latest phone call

Russian President Vladimir Putin told French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday that the West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine and accused Kyiv of not taking talks to end the conflict seriously, the Kremlin said.

Macron and Putin talk Ukraine weapons supply in latest phone call
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a joint press conference in February 2022. (Photo by Sergei GUNEYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP)

Accusing Ukrainian forces of committing war crimes and claiming the EU was “ignoring” them, Putin told Macron “the West could help stop these atrocities by putting relevant pressure on the Kyiv authorities, as well as halting the supply of weapons to Ukraine”.

Putin also said Kyiv was not being consistent or ready for “serious work” on ending the conflict.

“The Russian side is still open to dialogue,” the Russian leader told Macron, according to the Kremlin readout.

Macron’s Elysée Palace office said that beyond reiterating calls on Russia to end the assault on its neighbour with a ceasefire and peace talks, he had urged Putin to allow evacuations from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in port city Mariupol to continue.

He also offered to “work with the relevant international organisations to help lift the Russian blockade on Ukrainian food exports via the Black Sea, given its consequences for global food security”.

For his part, Putin linked the food situation to Western sanctions against Russia and “noted the importance of the unimpeded functioning of the global logistics and transport infrastructure”, the Kremlin said.

Macron is one of the few Western leaders to speak to Putin since Moscow moved troops into Ukraine on February 24, spending hours on telephone calls trying to negotiate a resolution to the conflict.

The conflict has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 13 million, creating the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

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FRENCH POLITICS

French minister investigated after rape allegations

A junior minister in President Emmanuel Macron's government is under investigation after two allegations of rape were brought against her, French prosecutors have said.

French minister investigated after rape allegations

The allegations go back to when Chrysoula Zacharopoulou – who is now state secretary for development, Francophonie and international partnerships – worked as a gynaecologist, according to French magazine Marianne.

One complaint was lodged on May 25th and the investigation opened two days later, the prosecutors said. The second complaint was filed on June 16th.

Greece-born Zacharopoulou, 46, joined the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in May, having been a member of the European Parliament for the previous three years. She reports to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

She gained prominence in 2015 by campaigning for greater public awareness of endometriosis together with actress Julie Gayet, who this year married former French president Francois Hollande.

Zacharopoulou was strongly involved in the UN’s COVAX coronavirus vaccine rollout effort, and has spoken out in favour of women’s reproductive rights.

These are not the first rape allegations to overshadow Macron’s government and come at a time of political difficulty for the president after he failed to retain a majority in parliamentary elections.

Prosecutors investigated Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin over an allegation for rape filed in 2017. He denied any wrongdoing and prosecutors in
January asked for the case to be dropped.

Rape allegations were also made against Solidarities minister Damien Abad last month but French prosecutors have said they were not currently opening an investigation.

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