Macron urged Russia to rise to the level of its responsibility as a permanent member of the U.S. Security Council by ending this devastating aggression, an Elysee statement said.
Macron asked Putin to restart evacuations at the Azovstal plant, which has served as a refuge for Ukrainians, in coordination with humanitarian units, while allowing evacuees to choose their destination, as called for under international law.
It was the first time that the French president has had a conversation with Putin since March 29 — before the discovery of the exactions in the Ukrainian town of Bucha — after multiple telephone talks. The call came three days after Macron last spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Concerned about world food security, Macron said he was willing to work with international organizations to try to help seek a lifting of the Russian blockade on exports of food goods via the Black Sea, according to the statement.
He also restated his willingness to work on conditions for a negotiated solution to the war, for peace, and for full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and reiterated his oft-stated demand for a cease-fire, the statement said.
According to the Kremlin, Putin told Macron that Moscow is ready for talks with Ukraine.
Russia said in its readout of Tuesday’s call that “despite Kyiv’s inconsistency and its lack of readiness for serious work, the Russian side is still ready for dialogue.”
The Kremlin added that the two leaders also discussed global food security and Putin underlined that Western sanctions have worsened the situation.
Key Developments in Russia-Ukraine War
— Aid workers prepare to receive civilians evacuating from the Mariupol steel plant
— Push to arm Ukraine putting strain on US weapons stockpile
— Pope Francis offers to meet Putin but hasn’t heard back
Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at this link
Russians Shell Chemical Plant, Killing 10
KYIV, Ukraine — The Donetsk regional governor said the Russian troops on Tuesday shelled a chemical plant in Avdiivka, a city in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 10 people and wounding 15 more.
“The Russians knew exactly where to aim — the workers just finished their shift and were waiting for a bus at a bus stop to take them home,” Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Telegram post. “Another cynical crime by Russians on our land.”
EU Nears New Sanctions on Russia
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat says the bloc’s executive branch is on the cusp of proposing a new raft of sanctions against Russia, including on oil.
EU policy commissioners have been discussing the new sanctions and are set to send their proposals later Tuesday to the 27 member countries for debate.
The union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a tweet that the executive is “working on the 6th package of sanctions which aims to de-swift more banks, list disinformation actors and tackle oil imports.” Swift is the most widely used international system for bank transfers.
Member countries have been involved in drawing up the proposals, but they routinely take days to endorse them. The sanctions can only enter force once they are published in the EU’s Official Journal. Hungary and Slovakia have already expressed reservations about signing on.
EU ambassadors are scheduled to meet on Wednesday. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is also likely to explain the proposals early Wednesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Russians Renew Attacks on Steel Plant
KYIV, Ukraine — The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment that is holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has confirmed that Russian forces started to storm the plant on Tuesday.
The move comes almost two weeks after Putin ordered his military not to storm the plant, but rather block it off.
Asked about the reports in Ukrainian media that the huge steelworks — the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in a city otherwise controlled by Moscow’s forces — was being stormed, Sviatoslav Palamar told the AP that “it is true.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Mariupol patrol police chief Mykhailo Vershinin was quoted by Ukrainian television as saying that the Russian military “have started to storm the plant in several places.”
UN Says 127 Evacuated From Steel Plant
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — The U.N.’s aid coordinator for Ukraine says 127 people have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol and nearby areas to a government-controlled city, in an operation carried out along with the international Red Cross.
Osnat Lubrani, the humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said Tuesday that those evacuated included 101 people who “could finally leave the bunkers below the Azovstal steelworks and see the daylight after two months.”
Another 58 people joined the convoy in Manhush, a town on the outskirts of Mariupol.
“Today, we brought people safely to Zaporizhzhia,” Lubriani said. “However, I worry that there may be more civilians who remain trapped.”
Danes Want India to Lobby Russia to End Warn
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has urged her visiting Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to try to influence Russia to end the war in Ukraine.
“Putin has to stop this war,” Frederiksen said Tuesday, adding immediately, “I hope that India will influence Russia.”
India’s neutral stance in the war has raised concerns in the West and earned praise from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who lauded India for judging “the situation in its entirety, not just in a one-sided way.”
Russian Helicopters Gather Near Ukraine Border
LVIV, Ukraine — Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press show nearly 50 Russian military helicopters at a base close to the Ukrainian border.
The image captured Monday by Planet Labs PBC shows the helicopters in Stary Oskol, Russia, some 110 miles northeast of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
The helicopters are stationed on the tarmac, runway, and grass of the otherwise civilian airport. Military equipment is stationed nearby to support the aircraft.
Russia has been using its military attack helicopters in its war on Ukraine, flying low to the ground to try to avoid anti-aircraft missiles.
Meanwhile, another satellite image showed a bridge repeatedly targeted by Moscow near the Black Sea port city of Odesa still standing as of around noon Monday. That strategic bridge connects Odesa to the wider countryside and would be key to defending the area.
A breakaway region of neighboring Moldova home to Russian troops nearby has seen a series of mysterious explosions in recent days, raising concerns about the conflict widening.