Fresh off a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Kyiv for talks Tuesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as leaders and diplomats work to deescalate tensions along the Ukraine-Russia border.
Macron told reporters Tuesday that in his discussion with Putin, he met his objective of preventing escalation of the crisis.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Monday that his country seeks “diplomatic solutions, but won’t cross Ukraine’s red lines.”
He said Ukraine will not make any concessions on its sovereignty or territorial integrity, will not hold direct negotiations with “Russian occupation administrations” in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, and that only the people of Ukraine have the right to choose the country’s foreign policy course.
After the Monday meeting with Macron, Putin said Russia would do its best “to find compromises” in the crisis with the West over Ukraine and said, “As far as we are concerned, we will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone.”
He said there would be “no winners” if war broke out on the European continent.
Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia and in its ally, Belarus, with the West fearing that Putin could at any time order an invasion.
France, the United States and their NATO allies have rejected Moscow’s demand that they rule out possible Ukraine membership in the Western military alliance formed after World War II.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday a crucial European gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, will not go forward if Russia invades Ukraine, as he hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House.
Biden told reporters “the notion that Nord Stream 2 would go forward” in the event of an invasion by Russian tanks or troops is “just not going to happen.”
Scholz did not directly say whether Germany would cancel the pipeline project but said, “We will take all the necessary steps, and all will be done together” with the United States and other allies.
He said, “We have prepared a reaction that will help us to react swiftly if needed” in the event of a Russian invasion. He said Germany would not “spell out everything in public.”
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, running under the Baltic Sea, is designed to bring Russian natural gas to Germany. The pipeline was recently completed but is not yet operational.
The United States, among others, has viewed putting the brakes on the pipeline as part of the deterrence of a Russian attack on Ukraine, eliminating potential Russian revenue from the pipeline.
Addressing reporters Monday, Biden also urged Americans in Ukraine to leave the country, saying, “It would be wise” for them to do so.
The U.S. State Department has already said nonessential employees in Ukraine could leave the country along with family members.
At the outset of their discussions, Scholz and Biden emphasized the close relationship between their two countries. But they have taken different approaches in assisting Ukraine, with the United States sending weapons to the Kyiv government, and Germany sending 5,000 military helmets Ukraine requested, while adhering to its long-held position of not shipping arms into a conflict zone.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday Putin continued to add to his troop numbers along the borders with Ukraine over the weekend.
“Sizable forces continue to be added to the forces Mr. Putin has arrayed,” Kirby told reporters. “With each passing day, he gives himself a lot more options from a military perspective.”
Carla Babb contributed to this report. Some information also came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters.