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UKRAINE

Macron to call Putin after G20 summit

President Emmanuel Macron will call counterpart Vladimir Putin after a Group of 20 summit in Bali where the Russian leader is expected to face strong pressure, a French official said on Monday.

Macron to call Putin after G20 summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris, on September 30, 2019. (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik / AFP)

Macron “will call him after the G20,” the senior Elysee official told reporters, lamenting Putin’s “isolation” over the invasion of Ukraine.

The French president has maintained lines of communication with Putin despite the conflict, and will “continue to talk,” the official added.

Macron will also tell China’s Xi Jinping it is in Beijing’s “interest” to “pressure” Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

He will meet the Chinese leader Tuesday morning on the sidelines of the summit on the Indonesian island of Bali and tell him “your interest, like mine, is to put pressure on Russia so it returns to the negotiating table and respects international law.”

Macron held numerous calls with Putin in the early days of the war. The French president’s call with his Russian counterpart on the eve of the invasion was unsuccessful and led to much criticism.

Macron‘s engagement has brought unease from some Eastern European nations wary of Russia although France insists that it has coordinated its diplomacy with allies.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna recently acknowledged the limited success with Putin but said it was important to try.

“We absolutely think it is crucial to keep a channel of communication with those making the decisions in Russia, including President Putin,” Colonna said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Putin is probably isolated in his very strange vision of the world and the way it could be run. Reinforcing this isolation of his would not be a good option,” she said.

Macron‘s talks with Putin did help secure a mission by the UN nuclear watchdog to travel to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

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UKRAINE

France to send more mobile artillery to Ukraine

France will send 12 further Caesar truck-mounted howitzers to Ukraine for its fight against Russian invaders, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Tuesday.

France to send more mobile artillery to Ukraine

The artillery pieces, adding to 18 already delivered, would be financed from a €200-million fund France set up to fund arms for Kyiv, Lecornu said in a joint Paris press conference with his Ukranian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov.

Alongside other Western-supplied mobile cannons like the German Panzerhaubitze 2000, the Caesar was credited last year with helping Ukraine strike targets deep behind Russian lines, undermining Moscow’s offensive.

The truck-mounted 155mm guns can set up, fire a highly-accurate volley at ranges of up to 40 kilometres and shift position before the enemy can locate them and fire back.

Lecornu said the new batch of howitzers would be delivered in the coming weeks.

Denmark has also pledged its entire 19-strong fleet of the French-made howitzers to the Ukrainian war effort.

France was by early December the 7th-largest supporter of Ukraine since the war broke out, according to data on military and financial aid collated by the Germany-based Institute for the World Economy think-tank – not yet taking into account major announcements of military equipment last month.

But European donors remain far short of the United States’ military aid commitments.

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