Berlin, May 29: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron have urged Russia’s Vladimir Putin to hold “direct serious negotiations” with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
During an 80-minute phone conversation with Putin on Saturday, the leaders of France and Germany “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops”, the chancellor’s office said.
The Russian President, as per Kremlin release, informed the leader of the latest developments of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, noting that the Russian armed forces strictly observe the norms of international humanitarian law.
The pair urged Putin to release 2,500 Ukrainian fighters taken as prisoners-of-war at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, reports BBC.
The leaders also urged Putin to lift Russia’s blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odesa, to allow for grain exports.
The Kremlin said Putin offered to look at options, to help address the risk of a global food crisis – but demanded that the West lift sanctions.
The difficulties in food supplies are caused by the erroneous economic and financial policies of Western countries as well as their anti-Russian sanctions. Russia is ready to help find options for the unimpeded export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports, the release said quoting Putin.
The Russian leader also criticized the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine, which could further destabilize the situation and aggravate the humanitarian crisis, the release added.