French President Emmanuel Macron urged the European Union to forge its own security pact with Russia on Wednesday in a break with U.S. calls for unity amid ongoing efforts to forestall a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The EU was not involved in direct talks with Moscow during last week's high-level diplomatic talks to try to ease tensions caused by Russia's massing of tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine.
“It’s good that Europeans and the United States coordinate, but it’s necessary that Europeans conduct their own dialogue,” Macron told the European Parliament.
"We must put together a joint proposal, a joint vision, a new security and stability order for Europe,” the French president said.
“We should build as Europeans working with other Europeans and with NATO and then propose it for negotiation with Russia” in the next few weeks, he added.
Macron has sought to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and modernize the EU’s post-Cold War relations with Moscow since taking office in 2017. He is a strong advocate for a Europe that is capable of defending its own strategic interests and maintaining financial independence.
His latest comments stand in stark contrast to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s calls for Western “unity” in its standoff with Russia.
“I think one of Moscow's long-standing goals has been to try to sow divisions between and within our countries and quite simply, we cannot and will not let them do that,” Blinken said on a visit to Kyiv.
Blinken is scheduled to meet his French, British and German counterparts Thursday, followed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, as The White House warns that Moscow could attack Ukraine at "any point."
The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who has expressed frustration with being sidelined from the talks with Russia, this month called for Brussels’ full involvement in dialogue over Europe’s security.
Lavrov last week accused the EU of “destroying” its communication channels with Moscow.
“I don’t even know how the EU sees its participation in the security negotiations,” Lavrov said.
On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Moscow will seek “points of contact” with the EU if Brussels adopts a “pragmatic” approach toward their relations.
AFP contributed reporting.