West must stop Ukraine having ‘gun put to its head’ in peace talks

Mr Macron announced that he would send six additional artillery systems to Kyiv and vowed Europe would stand by Ukraine until its victory. Germany has promised to send multiple launch rocket systems.

Mr Scholz has dismissed allegations that he has held back much-needed military support, saying Germany was one of the biggest military and financial backers of Ukraine. He said German support would continue “as long as it is necessary for Ukraine’s fight”.

Putin views talks ‘as a weakness’

Before the visit, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said the three leaders would “say that we need to end the war that is causing food problems and economic problems”.

“When the West talks to Putin, he sees it as a weakness. He’s pushing. He killed people in Bucha and the West says we should save his face,” he said.

In May, Mr Zelensky said he had rejected a suggestion from Mr Macron that Ukraine would have to cede territory to Russia in peace talks.

In an interview with TF1 television on Thursday night, Mr Macron appeared to contradict his previous remarks, saying Ukraine alone should decide whether or not to accept any territorial concessions.

“This is up to Ukraine to decide,” Macron said when asked what concessions, including on its territory, Ukraine should accept, adding: “I think it is our duty to stand by our values, by international law and thus by Ukraine.”

Paris and Berlin agree that Russia must withdraw troops to the territory it held before the February invasion if peace talks are to begin. Mr Draghi said any peace terms had to be acceptable to Kyiv.

Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. Mr Zelensky has recently suggested that Ukraine could take back Crimea, which could put him on a collision course with the three leaders.

“We must win this war and return our occupied territories. This will be our common victory,” Mr Zelensky said, in a phone call with Joe Biden on Wednesday night.

Mr Macron, Mr Scholz and Mr Draghi traveled together by night train to Ukraine, along with Klaus Iohannis, the leader of Romania. Mr Macron said the visit sent a message of “European unity”.

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