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France's Macron Urges 'Useful' Response to Ukraine Crisis with Putin

INTERNATIONAL: French President Emmanuel Macron, the top Western leader to visit Moscow since Russia has begun massing troops on the border with Ukraine, has told Vladimir Putin at the start of talks in the Kremlin on Monday ,February 7, that he aimed to avoid war and build trust.

Macron has told the Russian president he was seeking a "useful" response "that of course allows everyone to avoid war and to build bricks of trust, stability, visibility.

Putin, for his part, has said Russia and France have shared "a common concern about what is happening in the security sphere in Europe".

Russia’s leader has added, he sees how much efforts the current leadership of France and the President personally, is applying in order to solve the crisis related to providing equal security in Europe for a serious historical perspective.

Macron, who is expected to seek re-election in April, has positioned himself as a potential mediator, with French officials voicing skepticism over predictions by Washington, London and other Western capitals that a Russian assault is imminent.

On his arrival, Macron has told reporters he felt reasonably optimistic but that also he didn't believe in "spontaneous miracles."

Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders. It denies planning an invasion, but says it is ready to take unspecified "military-technical measures" if demands are not met, including a promise by NATO never to admit Ukraine and to withdraw some troops from Eastern Europe.

Washington has rejected those demands as non-starters but says it is willing to talk about arms control and confidence-building steps, which Moscow says are beside the point.

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