French journalists disclosed the details a telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and France on February 20 – the last before Moscow recognized the independence of the so-called “DNR” and “LNR”, followed by an armed invasion of Ukraine.
The documentary “President, Europe and War”, shown on the France 2 TV channel, is based on nine minutes of a telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron. The film, as stated in the abstract, tells about the diplomatic behind the scenes of the last six months at the Elysee Palace – about Macron’s attempts to prevent the war and about his reaction to its outbreak.
Putin’s conversation with Macron, excerpts from which are included in the film, took place on the morning of February 20, against the backdrop of a sharp aggravation of the situation in the Donbass and the pulling of Russian troops to the border with Ukraine, but even before any official steps were taken by the Russian side.
“I would like you to first give me your understanding of the situation and, perhaps quite directly, when we talk one on one, tell me what your intentions are,” Macron began the conversation with these words. “What can I say? You can see for yourself what is happening,” Putin replied, after which he accused Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of lying, and Macron himself of wanting to revise the Minsk agreements on the settlement in Donbass. Macron disagreed with this interpretation, which led to a heated exchange of views. To Putin’s lamentations that the separatists’ proposals were “not heard”, Macron, as follows from the film, replied: “We don’t give a damn about the separatists’ proposals!” – substantiating this by the fact that they are not a party to the Minsk agreements.
In the end, Putin agreed to Macron’s offer to meet with US President Joe Biden, but insisted that the date of the summit should not yet be set, as it needs to be prepared. The conversation ends with Putin’s words: “I don’t want to hide from you that I just wanted to go play hockey. Here, I’m talking to you from the gym.”
AT Kremlin message nothing was said about the February 20 telephone conversation about a possible meeting with Biden. The next day, at a meeting of the Russian Security Council, where the issue of recognizing the separatist republics of Donbass was discussed, Putin mentioned a certain proposal from the French side, but noted that it was not specific. The head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, offered to give the West a “last chance” for negotiations, but in response to Putin’s words, “Are you proposing to start a negotiation process?” he hesitated and spoke first for the annexation of the “DNR” and “LNR” to Russia, and after another question from Putin – for their independence.
Macron, and after the outbreak of the war – in contrast, for example, from the President of the United States – called Putin several times. He said that it did not give him pleasure, but emphasized that contacts were necessary to find peace.
The Kremlin has not yet commented on the French documentary.