BRUSSELS (AFP/REUTERS) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday (Feb 25) it is useful to keep alive the chance of dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin after he launched an invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Macron said after a summit of EU leaders that "while condemning, while sanctioning" it remains useful "to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be fulfilled, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities".
Mr Macron on Thursday was the only Western leader to speak to Mr Putin after he unleashed the Russian military on his pro-Western neighbour.
The Kremlin said Mr Putin held a "frank" conversation with the French leader.
The Elysee Palace said Mr Macron called Mr Putin to demand an end to Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.
"After having spoken with the Ukrainian president, and in coordination with him, the president (Macron) called Vladimir Putin to demand the immediate halt of Russian military operations, noting that Russia risked massive sanctions," the Elysee said.
Mr Macron said he held the phone call because his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky had asked him to.
"It was also to ask him to discuss with President Zelensky, who had requested that, because he could not reach him," Mr Macron said.
But Mr Macron also noted that Mr Putin had been duplicitous in his conversations with him, discussing details of the Minsk agreements over the phone while preparing to invade Ukraine.
"Yes, there was duplicity, yes there was a deliberate, conscious choice to launch war when we could still negotiate peace," Mr Macron told reporters.