Germany and France Consider Resumption of Dialogue with Russia
German Chancellor Scholz initiated a telephone call with Russian President Putin on Dec. 2, for their first conversation since last September. Both leaders reportedly stressed their interest in talks to end the Ukrainian conflict. Vladimir Putin called on Germany to no longer take part in “flooding the Kiev regime with weapons and training Ukrainian troops”, noting that as a result of military aid and “comprehensive financial support”, Kiev continues to reject the very idea of holding talks. His interlocutor reiterated Germany’s support for Ukraine to allow it to defend against “Russian aggression”, but also called for a diplomatic solution to be reached as soon as possible.
According to the Kremlin, the two leaders agreed on the importance of implementing the grain deal involving the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports and the unblocking of Russian food and fertilizer exports. It adds that both Scholz and Putin “stressed the important role of the recently extended grain agreement under the aegis of the United Nations and agreed to remain in contact”.
The grain deal as a door opener for peace talks was also addressed by Angela Merkel’s former national security adviser, General (ret.) Erich Vad, in a Dec. 1 exclusive interview with Turkey’s TRT television program. He believes that Turkish President Erdogan’s role in negotiating the grain export agreement with Russia and Ukraine “is a format that could be quite interesting” for potential peace negotiations. The Turkish President could also play a decisive role in such talks, “because of course he still talks to Putin, which many Western leaders no longer do, or only talk on the phone”.
To this picture should be added the remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron during his trip to the United States last week. In an interview with France’s TF1, he brought up the need to take into account Moscow’s demands for security guarantees: “This means that one of the essential points we must address — as President Putin has always said — is the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia. That topic will be part of the topics for peace, so we need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table.”
Speaking to CBS News on Dec. 4, Emmanuel Macron cautioned that the Russians’ sentiment that NATO wants to destroy Russia had to be taken seriously. “I don’t believe this is our perspective. It has never been our perspective in France,” he said, stressing that he has always attempted to maintain the dialogue with Putin. “I always maintain regular discussions and direct contact with President Putin. Because I believe that the best way to reengage is to preserve this direct channel.”