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Macron calls for dialogue with Russia to end war in Ukraine

The French president has also assured that he hopes to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran "in the next few days"
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REUTERS/MOHAMMED BADRA  -   French President Emmanuel Macron during his speech at the conference of French ambassadors at the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, 1 September 2022

The war in Ukraine enters its seventh month with no expectation of an end in sight. While Russian bombardments continue in places such as Kharkov and Bakhmut, the Ukrainian army is focusing on the counter-offensive in Kherson. Meanwhile, the Zaporiyia nuclear power plant and the fighting around it continue to cause international concern. In order to assess the situation at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) led by Rafael Grossi has arrived in Zaporiyia in the last few hours. 

The picture in Ukraine is bleak. Half a year after the start of the brutal invasion, there is no end in sight to the conflict. Similarly, Europe is bracing itself for a difficult winter with a severe energy crisis resulting from the war. For the time being, countries such as Latvia, Finland and Poland no longer receive Russian gas after refusing to pay in roubles. On the other hand, Germany has suffered several supply cuts due to "maintenance work" on the Nord Stream pipeline.

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AFP/AFP - Map of Europe with gas pipeline networks from Russia including Nord Stream 1

In this context - and without diplomatic channels between Moscow and Kiev - French President Emmanuel Macron has called for continued dialogue with Russia. Talks between the two sides have been stalled since March, when Russian and Ukrainian delegations last met in Istanbul.

"Who wants Turkey to be the only power in the world that is still talking to Russia?" asked Macron before diplomats gathered at the Elysee during the Ambassadors' Conference. "We must assume that we can talk to everyone, especially those with whom we disagree," the president added, according to AFP. Macron's remarks come a day after Russian giant Gazprom cut gas supplies to French energy company Engie. 

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REUTERS/MOHAMMED BADRA - French President Emmanuel Macron during the conference of French ambassadors at the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, 1 September 2022

Macron is one of the few European leaders to have held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the start of the war. In May, the two held their first telephone conversation together with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Subsequently, the French president spoke with Putin again on 19 August to discuss the situation in Zaporiyia and the IAEA visit.

Although the main purpose of these talks was to somehow reach a basis for dialogue and peace, Macron has been harshly criticised for talking to Putin. The Elysée has always claimed that the issues to be discussed have always had the consent of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who has claimed that Macron is trying 'in vain' to seek a 'way out for Russia'. Kiev has rejected dialogue with Moscow until Russia withdraws its troops from the country. Likewise, according to Europa Press, the Ukrainian government considers it impossible to turn back 'given the war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine'

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AP/KOSTIANTYN LIBEROV - A resident looks at a damaged building after a rocket attack early Wednesday morning, in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022

Despite advocating dialogue with Moscow, Macron assured that "we cannot let Russia win this war". In this sense, the French president stressed the importance of "the unity of Europe", since one of Putin's main objectives is "the division of Europe".

In addition to stressing the importance of European unity, Macron called for strengthening alliances, "even if imperfect or incomplete", with African, Asian and American countries in order to stop the amplification of the conflict, according to France24.

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AFP/ODD ANDERSEN and STEPHANE MAHE - Combination of images of Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron

China was one of the nations he mentioned in this regard. With regard to the Asian giant, Macron assured that, although it is a "systemic rival" and does not share European democratic values, it is an important interlocutor in the fight against climate change or conflict resolution, as reported by EFE. 

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AP/KOSTIANTYN LIBEROV - Local residents drink water with an air pump from a partially restored water supply in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022
Macron, optimistic about the nuclear agreement with Iran

"I hope that in the next few days the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) will be concluded", the French president assured when speaking about the nuclear agreement with Iran. In recent weeks, there have been major and important developments to return to the 2015 pact with Tehran.

The US has already responded to the draft submitted by the EU, and Iran is now "carefully" reviewing it, as announced by Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. However, the head of Iranian diplomacy added that Tehran needs "stronger guarantees from the other side to have a sustainable agreement".