PARIS, Aug. 31 - French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview he had major differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine and “won’t let him get away with anything,” Reuters reported.
“I speak with everybody. Very directly and very frankly,” Macron said in an interview with French weekly Le Point published on Wednesday.
“On Ukraine, we have major differences with Vladimir Putin. I take note of it. France won’t let him get away with anything.”
The conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists has claimed more than 10,000 lives since it erupted in 2014.
Germany and France have tried to persuade both sides to implement a peace deal agreed in Minsk in 2015, but with little success, including since Macron came to power in May, despite several meetings and calls.
Macron in late May hosted Putin at the 17th-century palace of Versailles outside Paris. Both men said they had agreed on the need to move forward on divisive issues such as Syria.
Sanctions on Russia will be lifted once Moscow agrees to bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine and no sooner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday.
The German leader said that the removal of sanctions would be economically beneficial to both Russia and Germany but insisted that Moscow would have to cease its imposition on Ukraine before these sanctions could be lifted and the advantages felt.
"Ukraine does not have full sovereignty," Merkel told reporters Tuesday at her annual summer news conference in Berlin.
Russia has been subject to sanctions from the European Union, the U.S. and several countries since 2014 when it backed pro-Russian and anti-government groups in the Donbass regions of eastern Ukraine, resulting in major conflict and the annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
On Monday, during a joint conference with the French President, Merkel called for Russia to do more to end the fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists which has so far claimed more than 10,000 lives and remains an issue of tense conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The imposition of sanctions has badly hurt Russia's economy, as well as hitting a number of EU countries. (rt/ez)