Be tough with Russia over Ukraine: France

Stephen LowmaAAP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says new talks involving Germany and France are planned.
Camera IconUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says new talks involving Germany and France are planned. Credit: AP

French President Emmanuel Macron says it is "unacceptable" that Russian troops are amassing along Ukraine's eastern border and has called for a tough stance against the threat of new military aggression in the region.

"The situation today and the level of tension at the border is absolutely counterproductive and unacceptable," Macron said in an interview that aired on Sunday.

While he was in favour of accelerating diplomatic efforts to ease the tensions, Macron said the discussions with Russia needed to be "clear and tough".

"I think we have to define clear red lines with Russia," Macron told US television channel CBS.

"This is the only way to be credible. I think that sanctions are not sufficient in itself, in themselves, but sanctions are part of the package," he said.

Macron has put himself at the forefront of the diplomatic push to ease the latest flare up in Ukraine's conflict.

He held discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday.

The three demanded Russia pull back troops and urged that a shaky ceasefire in eastern Ukraine be recommitted to.

New consultation-level talks with Franco-German mediation are planned for Monday, according to Zelenskiy.

Anxiety is growing about the conflict that erupted between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatist rebels in 2014, the same year that Russian forces annexed the Crimean peninsula further south.

Parts of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been controlled by rebels supported by Russia for nearly seven years.

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