MOSCOW – The newly elected French president, who officially took the reins of the country only four days ago, held his first telephone conversation with the Russian leader, the Kremlin informed Thursday.
According to the official press notice, Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin addressed the fight against international terror as well as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, a topic that has in recent years strained relations between Moscow and the West.
The two heads of state also discussed future face-to-face meetings, the statement said.
Putin and Macron agreed on the importance of the continuation of the so-called Normandy format interaction, which seeks to de-escalate the violence in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels declared de facto independence and were militarily engaged with the Ukrainian army.
The Normandy format involves the participation of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine in the Minsk agreements, a package of measures that warring sides in Ukraine are expected to meet.
Many leaders in the West hold Russia responsible for the continued insurgency in the Donbass and Luhansk region of Ukraine and have even accused Moscow of sending its own troops to help out.
Russia has denied the allegations, although it does maintain diplomatic contact with the rebel territories.
Putin congratulated his French counterpart on the formation of his new government cabinet.
The Kremlin press release said both the French and the Russian leader expressed their willingness to continue traditional, friendly bilateral relations in a political, economic and cultural ambit.
Political analysts consider Macron’s election to have run contrary to Moscow’s preferences for the French presidency.
Throughout his campaign, Macron signaled his desire to strengthen the European Union, adopting a more wary stance against Russia compared to his far-right rival Marine le Pen.
She had pledged to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership and said she would examine lifting sanctions against Russia.
Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula continued to be a thorn in the side of EU-Russia relations.