Emmanuel Macron says 'worst is to come' in Ukraine after call with Russia's Vladimir Putin

Emmanuel Macron warned the worse was yet to come in Russia's war on Ukraine. Credit: AP

French president, Emmanuel Macron, has warned the worst of Russia's invasion of Ukraine is yet to come after speaking to Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

The Russian president told his French counterpart in a phone call between the two leaders there would be no let up in Moscow's invasion of Ukraine until it had achieved its aims to demilitarise and neutralise its neighbour.

According to one of his aides, Mr Macron reportedly condemned Putin's "lies" during the call and said Putin was aiming to seize all of Ukraine despite the Kremlin's claims it was not intent on occupying the country.

Putin dismissed negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the conflict, even as both sides sat down to ceasefire talks, saying they would only lead to more demands from Moscow.

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In the US meanwhile, the Pentagon said it has established a channel of direct communication with the Russian ministry of defence to avoid unintended conflict related to the war in Ukraine.

A US defence official said the “de-confliction line” was established March 1 “for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the communication line has not been announced.

Thousands of people continue to flee Ukraine Credit: Visar Kryeziu/AP

Mr Macron said he has once again asked Putin to halt attacks on Ukraine, but that the Russian president said he would not.

“At this point, he refuses,” Mr Macron wrote in Twitter post.

The French president said he will continue the dialogue to prevent “more human tragedy.”

“We must prevent the worst from happening,” Macron wrote. "Dialogue has to continue to “protect the (civilian) population, to obtain good will gestures ... to put an end to this war."

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Moscow also denied reports Russian forces were bombarding Kyiv, saying they were part of an "anti-Russia disinformation campaign".

Putin described his campaign in Ukraine as a "special operation" and said Russia is not seeking to occupy territory but to destroy Ukraine's military capabilities and overthrow what the Kremlin describe as dangerous nationalists.

In a statement issued after the second round of talks between the two presidents, Putin claimed Russian forces were doing all they could to protect civilians.

"Vladimir Putin outlined in detail the fundamental approaches and conditions in the context of negotiations with representatives of Kyiv. It was confirmed that, first of all, we are talking about the demilitarisation and neutral status of Ukraine, so that a threat to the Russian Federation will never emanate from its territory," the statement said.

"It was emphasised that the tasks of the special military operation will be fulfilled in any event, and attempts to gain time by dragging out negotiations will only lead to additional demands on Kiev in our negotiating position."

The statement said Russia's "special operation" in Ukraine was going "according to plan".

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