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Putin, phone call with Macron before the war: “I play hockey …”

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Emmanuel Macron And the Russian President Vladimir Putin They had a very direct and tense conversation just 4 days after the start of the invasion of Ukraine: A documentary Broadcast on France 2 dedicated to the behind-the-scenes efforts of French diplomacy over the past six months, revealed nine-minute content of the conversation in which the two leaders participated.

It’s February 20. In order to avoid escalation, Macron regularly hears Putin to make him clarify his intentions. The cameras frame the president’s diplomatic advisor, Emmanuel Bonand three collaborators. The four members of the Elysee Diplomatic Cell follow the conversation from a distance.

Emmanuel Macron immediately got to the heart of the matter: “I would like you to immediately give me your reading of the situation, and perhaps quite directly, as we both do, tell me what your intentions are.” Putin answers: “We have a completely different reading of the situation. On the occasion of the last interview, I reminded you and even read Articles 9, 11 and 12 of the Minsk Agreements.”

Then President Putin accuses Volodymyr Zelensky of doing nothing to honor the agreements, going so far as to accuse him of wanting to equip himself with nuclear weapons. “No, that’s ridiculous,” comments the President of the Elysee. “They have them in front of me,” he adds, in a clear reference to the texts of the agreements.

“It is written that the Government of Ukraine proposes and that this be done in consultation and agreement with representatives of some regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, within the framework of the tripartite contact group, and this is exactly what we propose to do .. I do not know where your jurist learned from – he continues, responds to the arguments of the interlocutor – I I just look at the scripts and try to apply them.” He asserts, “I don’t know who is a legal person who will be able to tell you that the legal texts are proposed by separatist groups and not by the democratically elected authorities.”

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Putin answers not a question about a democratically elected government. They came to power in a bloody coup. Hear me, the principle of dialogue is to take into account the interests of the other party. Suggestions are available. The separatists, as you call them, sent them to the Ukrainians, but received no response. Where is the dialogue? “.

Macron replies: “Since I just finished telling you, we do not care about the proposals of the separatists. What we ask of them is to respond to the texts of the Ukrainians.” Then the atmosphere becomes more relaxed when the French leader proposes a meeting of all parties. “I’ll ask Zelensky right away,” he says. So he acknowledges that “the situation on the line of communication is very tense.” And he confirms: “Yesterday I really urged Zelensky to calm down. I will tell him again, to calm everyone, calm down on social networks, calm the Ukrainian armed forces.”

At this point, Macron touches the crucial point of the interview, which is the goal of persuading the Russian president to meet with US President Joe Biden to try to de-escalate. The Russian president is not too enthusiastic, let alone the idea of ​​a date.

“First of all we have to prepare for this initial meeting,” he insists. Postpone it to a later time. “I’ll call my advisor first.” “Because – he admits to his interlocutor – in order not to hide anything from you, I wanted to play ice hockey. Right now I’m talking to you from the gym as I’m about to rehearse.”

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