President of Russia Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of France Emmanuel Macron, in which he once again accused Ukraine of “violating the Minsk agreements.”
According to the Kremlin’s website, the president of the aggressor country “expressed concern over the prolonged tensions in southeastern Ukraine.”
In addition, Putin “drew attention to the destructive actions of Kyiv” and accused the Ukrainian authorities of “deliberate aggravation of the situation on the line of conflict and the replication of provocative legislative initiatives that directly contradict the Minsk agreements.”
According to the Russian interpretation of this conversation, the presidents agreed to coordinate the efforts of Russia and France in the “Normandy format.”
At the same time, the press service of the Elysee Palace states that Macron reaffirmed his readiness to work on the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which requires the commitment of all parties, including Russia.
Macron also called for the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and wished that the September Duma elections were held in accordance with OSCE criteria. The Kremlin’s website mentioned neither Navalny nor the elections, ahead of which the Russian Federation massively issues passports in the occupied Ukrainian territories and organises opportunities for future voting there.
The day before, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky told Western journalists that the Russian Federation linked the issue of political prisoners in Crimea to the occupation of the peninsula, which it did not recognise. According to the Ukrainian head of state, the release of prisoners requires negotiations directly with Putin, who “can easily return our prisoners to us, even if he does not consider them to be political prisoners.”
Today, 20 August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The parties are expected to discuss the war in Donbas, the gas transit, and the situation in Afghanistan.
Angela Merkel’s official visit to Kyiv is scheduled for 22 August.