Humanitarian issues on focus in Putin-Macron call

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Russia and Ukraine concluded their latest round of face-to-face peace talks in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul Tuesday…reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron held a phone conversation to continue discussions of the situation in Ukraine, shortly after a new round of Moscow-Kiev peace talks ended in Istanbul, Turkey.

Putin and Macron paid particular attention to humanitarian issues in Ukraine, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a Kremlin statement.

Putin informed Macron of measures being taken by the Russian military to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and ensure the safe evacuation of civilians, including from the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

Putin stressed that in order to resolve the difficult humanitarian situation in Mariupol, “Ukrainian nationalist militants must stop resistance and lay down their arms,” the statement said.

The presidents also touched upon Russia’s decision to shift to payments in rubles for its natural gas supplied to “unfriendly” countries and regions, particularly to the European Union, according to the statement.

Russia and Ukraine concluded their latest round of face-to-face peace talks in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul Tuesday.

 Belgium expels 21 Russian diplomats

Belgium will expel 21 Russian diplomats suspected of espionage and involvement in influence operations threatening Belgian security, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmes has announced.

The diplomats, from the Russian Embassy in Brussels and the Consulate General in Antwerp, will have to leave the territory within 15 days, Xinhua news agency reported.

The decision was announced during the current affairs debate in Parliament on Tuesday.

The Russian Ambassador to Belgium was informed by the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, said the minister.

“This decision does not constitute a sanction or a punitive measure. It is only linked to our national security,” she said. “Diplomatic channels remain open … and we will of course continue to advocate dialogue.”

Meanwhile, while commenting on statements by representatives of Western countries that they will not pay for deliveries in rubles, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia does not intend to engage in charity and export gas to Europe for free,.

Peskov also stressed that Moscow was not the initiator of such a development of the situation, since it was the Western states that unleashed an economic war against Russia, RT News reported.

Western countries unleashed an economic war against Russia, he added.

“Western European countries, the US, Canada, Australia are actually waging a war against us in trade and the economy,” Peskov was quoted by TASS in an interview with PBS.

According to him, Western countries seized Russian property, seize money, block financial relations. He noted that Russia has to adapt to the new reality.

Russia does not intend to supply Europe with gas for free, Peskov said on the air of the American television company PBS.

“No payment – no gas,” TASS quoted Peskov as saying.

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