Vladimir Putin wants to seize all of Ukraine and “worse is to come” during the conflict, the French president has warned.
Emmanuel Macron held talks with Mr Putin over the phone this afternoon in a bid to ease tensions between Russia and the West.
The pair spoke for 90 minutes, with Mr Putin telling Mr Macron the war in Ukraine is “going according to plan”, a French official said.
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According to French officials, Mr Macron told the Russian leader that he was making a “major mistake” in Ukraine, adding: “You are lying to yourself”.
The official at the French Elysee presidential palace said Mr Putin told Mr Macron the invasion will continue “until the end” unless negotiations meet his terms.
These, Mr Putin said, must centre on the “neutralisation and disarmament of Ukraine” – with the president saying he would attain the goal by military means, if not by political and diplomatic means.
A source described the tone of the phone call as “pessimistic” and “not-so-friendly”.
Putin ‘punishing his own country’
Mr Putin continues to maintain Russia is seeking to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine – to which Mr Macron reportedly replied that “Ukraine was not the Nazi regime and that his vision of Ukraine was not confronting reality”.
He warned Mr Putin his actions would “punish his own country”.
Following the call, Mr Macron believes “worse is to come” in the unfolding humanitarian crisis and that Mr Putin wants to seize the entire country, according to an aide.
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Despite evidence of civilian casualties, Mr Putin also called the accusations that his military had attacked residential areas part of an “anti-Russian disinformation campaign” and insisted the army only used weapons to destroy military infrastructure.
Ukraine has said 2,000 civilians have died since the start of the invasion last week.
‘Ukraine will not surrender’
Mr Macron expressed his concern for citizens and the need for a humanitarian corridor and conditions. Mr Putin acknowledged but gave no details on what he was willing to do.
Following the call, Mr Macron called Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and relayed that Russia was determined to pursue a military operation to the very end.
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Mr Zelenskyy said Ukraine will not surrender and negotiations will continue.
Peace talks between the two countries have started in Belarus, with Ukraine hoping the talks could end in a ceasefire. However, experts believe Russia is making unreasonable demands that will be near impossible to meet.