Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused Kyiv of “war crimes” in a call with his French counterpart, saying that Moscow was doing “everything possible” to avoid civilian deaths in Ukraine.
“Attention was drawn to the numerous war crimes committed daily by the Ukrainian security forces,” the Kremlin said of the call between Putin and Emmanuel Macron.
“In particular massive rocket and artillery attacks on the cities of Donbas,” the Kremlin added, referring to Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, part of which is controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.
Putin told Macron the Russian army was “doing everything possible to safeguard the lives of peaceful civilians, including by organising humanitarian corridors for their safe evacuation”, the Kremlin said.
Both leaders also discussed ongoing negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv to end the conflict in Ukraine in the call, which was a “French initiative”, it said.
Macron has played a leading role in trying to defuse the crisis through a diplomatic push that has seen him speak with Putin in person or by phone around a dozen times since the conflict began.
During the latest call, which lasted one hour 10 minutes, Macron expressed his “extreme concern” over the fate of Mariupol, the southern coastal city that has been hit by intense bombardments in recent days.
Macron’s office said he urged “a lifting of the siege and humanitarian access” to the city, with “concrete and verifiable measures” to ensure residents’ safety.
The French president also “again demanded the immediate respect of a cease-fire” in Ukraine, the Elysee Palace said.