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Rare video shows France's Macron trying to talk Putin down from invading Ukraine. 4 days later, he attacked.

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A composite image of French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R.)
A composite image of French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R.)Pascal Rossignol/Reuters: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
  • A newly released video shows Putin and Macron's negotiations as Russia built up to invade Ukraine.

  • Fault lines were obvious in the call, footage of which came from a French documentary.

  • Putin would go on to use much the same reasoning when he invaded four days later.

Newly released video gave a rare glimpse into French President Emmanuel Macron's last-ditch attempts to talk Russian President Vladimir Putin out of invading Ukraine.

The tense conversation between the two leaders shows that Macron tried to bring Putin to the negotiating table with President Joe Biden — a meeting that would never take place.

The clip of the call was released as part of "A president, Europe and war," a documentary on French network France 2. It shows presidential advisers listening in and making notes.

While Macron spoke from another room in the Élysée Palace, Putin said he was speaking from the gym, preparing to play ice hockey.

Swiss newspaper Le Temps published a transcript in French. In the conversation, Macron repeatedly contradicted Putin's claims over what he had said in other moments, and on several points of law.

"I don't know where your lawyers learned the law!" remarked Macron at one point, after Putin urged him to enter into negotiations with Russia-backed separatists in the Donbas region.

Doing that, Macron said, would contravene the Minsk peacekeeping accords which Ukraine and Russia had agreed to in 2014.

"It's not separatists who will make proposals on Ukrainian laws," said Macron. "I don't know what lawyer is going to to tell you that in a sovereign country the texts of laws are proposed by separatist groups and not by the democratically elected authorities."

Putin responded: "This is not a democratically elected government."

"They came to power in a coup, people were burned alive, it was a bloodbath and Zelenskyy is one of those responsible." Putin's claims of a genocide carried out by Zelenskyy's government are not true, and have been repeatedly debunked.

After Putin asked him to listen to the separatists, Macron was blunt: "We don't give a damn about the separatists' proposals."

He added that Putin's refusal to recognize President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's government cast doubt on his own will to respect the Minsk accords, which see the Ukrainian government as legitimate.

The false idea that Ukraine is not a sovereign country with a democratically elected government would form the underpinning of Putin's rationale for invading, four days later.

Eventually Macron proposed a meeting between all parties involved, but noted that the separatists had not so far responded to such an invitation.

Towards the end of the call, Macron tried to persuade Putin to "calm down your pre-positioned armed forces," saying that he was telling Zelenskyy to "calm everyone down" as well.

At the time, Putin had troops poised at the eastern Ukraine border under the pretense of military exercises. US and other Western intelligence officials had long asserted that the buildup was preparation for an invasion.

Putin responded noncommittally, saying the exercises would "probably" end that night, but that he would maintain a military presence along Ukraine's borders.

Macron wrapped up by asking Putin to come to a meeting with Biden — to which Putin eventually agreed "in principle."

Putin grudgingly agreed to put out a press release to that effect directly after the call, even though he said he "wanted to go play ice hockey" instead. A Biden-Putin meeting never took place.

In the following days, Putin would send even more forces to the Ukrainian border and go public with his intention to invade Ukraine, which he phrased as a military operation to help the separatists establish their own nations.

He would also go on to say the Minsk accords no longer exist, before sending his troops into Ukraine.

Read the original article on Business Insider