ROME (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday he believed there was a chance for peace in Ukraine, even as Russia warned the conflict there could escalate.
“There is the prospect for peace, it will come around at some moment,” said Macron at a conference in Rome aimed at seeking ways to promote world peace.
“And at a particular moment, given how things are evolving, and when the Ukrainian people and its leaders will have decided on the terms of this, a peace deal can be built up with the other side,” added Macron.
France has repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping Western diplomatic channels to Moscow open since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russia fired missiles and drones into Ukrainian-held Mykolaiv on Sunday, and Moscow said the conflict was trending towards “uncontrolled escalation”.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the Ukraine situation in separate phone conversations on Sunday with France’s Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu as well as with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the defence ministers of Britain and Turkey.
Without providing evidence, Shoigu said Ukraine could escalate with a “dirty bomb” – conventional explosives laced with radioactive material. Ukraine does not possess nuclear weapons, while Russia has said it could protect Russian territory with its nuclear arsenal.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Sophie Louet; Editing by Gareth Jones)