France’s Emmanuel Macron hosts talks with Vladimir Putin ahead of G7

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts Vladimir Putin at Fort Bregancon on the French Mediterranean coast today. This comes days before

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Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts Vladimir Putin at Fort Bregancon on the French Mediterranean coast today.

This comes days before Mr Macron hosts the G7 Summit in Biarritz on August 24. The Russians have been ostracised from the summit since 2014 as punishment for Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Mr Macron has become a G7 advocate for Russia in recent years, despite ongoing diplomatic tensions due to American allegations of Russian interference in its elections and British anger at the Salisbury nerve gas attack.

For the sake of European security, President Macron wants at least an informal dialogue between the G7 and Russia where the exclusive economic club could be used as a forum to de-escalate tensions and avoid misunderstandings—especially between the United States, Britain and Russia.

Mr Macron’s efforts on this front would be boosted today by a Russian commitment to serious peace talks in the disputed Eastern Donbass region of Ukraine. Prospects for the resumption of talks are positive given the new Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky is keen on talks and reportedly more flexible than his predecessor. Putin is likely happy to probe Zelensky for special autonomy for the separatist regions, which has always been his position. Indeed, Moscow may well use the end of hostilities as leverage to return to the G7 but Crimea is off the table.

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