The conditions for carrying out a humanitarian operation wanted by France to come to the aid of the citizens of the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol are not met “at this stage”, indicated the cabinet of President Emmanuel Macron after a telephone conversation between the leader French and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Macron briefed Putin on the details of the mission that France, Turkey and Greece would oversee, but the Russian leader replied that “he would think about it” before responding, an Elysee official said.
In the meantime, “it is out of the question to relax our efforts” because the situation is “catastrophic” for Mariupol and its inhabitants, the official said.
According to the Kremlin, however, Putin told Macron that Ukrainian “nationalists” in Mariupol should “lay down their arms” before Russian forces allow any emergency humanitarian aid.
It was the ninth phone call between the two leaders since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24, as Macron insists on keeping an open diplomatic line in hopes of ending the conflict.
He considers his task to be “first to obtain a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of (Russian) troops by diplomatic means”, he told the France 3 channel this weekend.
Ukrainian authorities say at least 5,000 people have died in Mariupol since the invasion began, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calling the siege of the city a “crime against humanity”.
The Elysee official declined to comment on the latest round of ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul, which has raised hopes for progress after previous rounds of talks failed to produce no breakthrough.
“We want to consult with the Ukrainians first,” the source said. “For the moment the war continues” and “our demands remain the same”.