France says will recognize Russian security concerns in talks on Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron. /CFP

French President Emmanuel Macron. /CFP

France hinted it will recognize Russia's security concerns without forsaking support for Ukraine's sovereignty when President Emmanuel Macron meets Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday as Europe pushes to defuse a crisis in eastern Europe.

Macron signaled the fresh attempt to defuse tensions and prompt Putin to de-escalate the situation in an interview with French publication Le Journal du Dimanche labeling it a "realistic" approach.

"Russia's geopolitical aim today is obviously not Ukraine but the clarification of the rules of how Moscow lives with Nato and the EU," Macron said on Sunday.

"The security and sovereignty of Ukraine and of any other European nation cannot be compromised in any way, just as it is legitimate for Russia to raise the issue of its own security concerns."

Macron's comments come as other Western leaders cautioned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was "imminent" as Russia massed thousands of troops on its neighbor's borders.

Macron, who has spoken to Putin at least three times in less than 14 days, said the intensity of those discussions was aimed at preventing a Russian military operation.

"We will not obtain unilateral gestures, but it is essential to stop the situation deteriorating."

Meanwhile, Ukraine has downplayed what it termed as apocalyptic predictions over a possible incursion as U.S. officials warned that Russia had moved up its preparations.

"Do not believe the apocalyptic predictions. Different capitals have different scenarios, but Ukraine is ready for any development," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.

"Today, Ukraine has a strong army, unprecedented international support and the faith of Ukrainians in their country. It is the enemy who should fear us."

Ukraine has repeatedly sought to downplay fears of an imminent attack by Russia as it tries to avoid derailing its ailing economy.

Russia has denied that it is planning an invasion of Ukraine and issued demands for NATO to guarantee Ukraine will not enter the military alliance and withdraw forces from member states in eastern Europe.

(With input from agencies)

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