Russian President Vladimir Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that he will continue military operations in Ukraine during a 90-minute call initiated by Putin, an Élysée Palace source told reporters at a briefing on Thursday.
“This conversation is unfortunately an occasion to hear that President Putin will continue military interventions and to go all the way,” according to the Élysée source.
“[The call] allowed the President of the Republic to return to the disagreements we have with Russia, to plead for the diplomatic alternative to military operations, to tell the truth to President Putin about the way we see his war in Ukraine but also the consequences it will have for Russia in the long term,” the source continued.
The Élysée source said "the worst is yet to come" in Ukraine following Macron’s phone call with Putin.
"Without making a prediction, we should expect the worst is yet to come. The (French) president said so yesterday as well. There is nothing in what Putin said today that should reassure us," the source said.
Meanwhile, Russian state news agency TASS said Putin and Macron had "a frank exchange of views on the situation around Ukraine," the Kremlin's press service said Thursday.
A Kremlin pool report from the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti said the discussion was difficult, with Putin alleging the Ukraine had carried out a "seven-year sabotage" of the Minsk agreements, a peace process that was definitely ended by the Russian government in its recent recognition of two separatist republics in Ukraine's east.
The two sides agreed to keep the door of dialogue open, according to both the Russians and the French.
RIA's report added that Putin warned the West that if Russian-Ukrainian negotiations drag on, then Moscow will have new demands on Kyiv, and that the tasks of the "special military operation" — Russia's euphemism for its war in Ukraine — would be carried out in any case.
According to the Élysée source, Putin also denied having bombarded Kyiv and warned that the situation will worsen, but it’s the fault of Ukraine.
In response, Macron warned Putin that he is making a huge mistake, according to the source. Macron reiterated that Moscow’s demands of neutralizing and disarming Ukraine are unacceptable, and the responsibility of this conflict falls entirely on Putin.
But Macron also said that there is still time for diplomacy and dialogue to address Russia’s concerns and include Russia’s interests; however, the discussion can’t happen “under Russian control” and had to be organized by international partners, according to the source.
Macron also asked Putin to respect the Ukrainian president, his family, relatives, state officials and elected representatives, according to the source.
After his call with Putin, Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.