Putin and Macron again discuss situation in Ukraine

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone about the situation in Ukraine shortly after a fresh round of Moscow-Kiev peace negotiations concluded in Istanbul, Turkey.

Putin and Macron devoted special attention to humanitarian difficulties in Ukraine, citing a Kremlin statement. Putin briefed Macron of Russian military actions being taken to deliver critical humanitarian aid and facilitate the safe evacuation of civilians, especially from Mariupol, a port city in eastern Ukraine. "Ukrainian nationalist militants must end resistance and lay down their arms," Putin stated in a statement, in order to overcome the grave humanitarian situation in Mariupol.

According to the statement, the presidents also discussed Russia's decision to switch to ruble payments for natural gas delivered to "unfriendly" countries and areas, including the European Union.  On Tuesday, Russia and Ukraine ended their latest round of face-to-face peace negotiations in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city.

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