Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz against increased arms supplies to Ukraine, saying it could lead to further destabilisation.
The Kremlin said Putin made his comments during a three-way telephone call with the French and German leaders on Saturday in which he warned against the continued transfers of Western weapons to Ukraine, and blamed the conflict’s disruption to global food supplies on Western sanctions.
Putin told Macron and Scholz that continuing arms supplies to Ukraine was “dangerous”, and he warned “of the risks of further destabilisation of the situation and aggravation of the humanitarian crisis”, the Kremlin said.
During the 80-minute call, Macron and Scholz in return urged an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine and a withdrawal of Russian troops from the country, according to the German chancellor’s spokesperson.
The European leaders also urged Putin to engage in serious and direct negotiations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to end the fighting, the spokesperson said.
A Kremlin readout of the three-way call said the Russian leader affirmed “the openness of the Russian side to the resumption of dialogue”, without mentioning the possibility of direct talks between Putin and Zelenskyy.
Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations have been held both in person and via video-link since the Russian military offensive but have recently ground to a halt.
The Kremlin also said that Putin emphasised during an “in-depth exchange of views” with Macron and Scholz that Russia was working to “establish a peaceful life in Mariupol and other liberated cities in the Donbas” – the Ukrainian region where Russian forces are now fighting for full control.
The French president’s report on Friday’s call noted that Macron and Scholz also asked Putin to release the estimated 2,500 Ukrainian fighters who held out for weeks inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and later surrendered to the Russian army.
The three leaders agreed to stay in contact, according to the readout.
More sophisticated and powerful weapons
Putin’s renewed warning over Western weaponry comes as Ukrainian officials have pressed Western nations for more sophisticated and powerful weapons, especially multiple launch rocket systems, to compete with Russia’s firepower in the ongoing offensive in Donbas.
The US Department of Defense would not confirm a media report on Friday that claimed US President Joe Biden’s administration was preparing to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine.
Russia’s US ambassador on Saturday branded such a move as “unacceptable” and called on the Biden administration to “abandon statements about the military victory of Ukraine”.
A Telegram post published on the Russian embassy’s official channel cited ambassador Anatoliy Antonov as saying that “the unprecedented pumping of weapons into Ukraine significantly increases the risks of an escalation of the conflict”.
The Biden administration and its allies have been providing Ukraine with increasingly sophisticated and diverse arms to combat Russia’s invasion forces, including longer-range weaponry, such as M777 howitzers. On May 11, the US House passed a $40bn aid package for Ukraine, that included $8.7bn to replenish US weaponry stocks sent to Ukraine.