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French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to have “serious direct negotiations” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in order to reach “a diplomatic solution” to the war.
The request came during a phone call between the three executives, Scholz’s office said.
According to Moscow, Putin told Macron and Scholz that increasing military supplies to Ukraine risked “further destabilizing” the conflict.
Macron and Scholz “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops”, the chancellery said.
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Putin said Moscow was open to resuming talks with Kyiv, according to the Kremlin, which did not say whether the Russian leader would engage in direct talks with Zelensky.
Ukraine’s president has previously said he is not “eager” to engage with Russia, but noted such conversations would likely have to take place for the war to end.
The Russian and Ukrainian delegations have had multiple discussions since Russia launched its invasion in late February, although negotiations have stalled recently.
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Macron and Scholz also called on Putin to release 2,500 Ukrainian fighters taken as prisoners of war at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine.
Moscow officials said earlier this month that the last fighters defending the plant had surrendered. Zelenskyy said they received permission to leave.
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Russia previously claimed that more than 900 of the Ukrainian fighters had been transported to a reopened penal colony in Russian-occupied Donetsk. Some of them, seriously injured, were taken to hospital.
Ukraine is considering releasing the fighters in a prisoner swap, but Russia has not confirmed a swap is on the table and some Russian officials have argued the fighters should be tried or executed.
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