Putin tells Macron: Russia does not want protests like you have

Emmanuel Macron in controversial talks with Russia ahead of G7

Emmanuel Macron in controversial talks with Russia ahead of G7

The European Union has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russian Federation after it seized Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, an annexation the worldwide community deemed illegal.

Russia was thrown out of what was the Group of Eight (G8) leading economies in 2014 after Moscow annexed Ukraine's peninsula of Crimea in an internationally condemned move that came shortly before the conflict pitting Russian-backed forces against government troops in Ukraine's Donbass region.

Insisting that peace can be returned to Ukraine only by way of diplomacy, Zelenskiy has also called for a new round of talks within the Normandy format for negotiations aimed at putting an end to the war.

"We need to keep up our pressure, our energy to resolve this problem", he added. "There are some things that can be discussed here, that inspire such cautious optimism", Putin told journalists.

As reported earlier, Putin and Zelensky talked over the phone on Aug 7. We will clarify our countries' positions and talk about the statements made recently by [Ukraine's] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin today he meant to discuss preparations for a Normandy-format summit on the Donbas conflict.

"The population in Idlib is living under bombs, children are being killed", Macron said.

On Ukraine, Putin said that "there are a number of issues that we need to agree on.But, in my opinion, there is no alternative to the Normandy format".

"We called this summer for freedom of protest, freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and the freedom to run in elections, which should be fully respected in Russian Federation like for any member of the Council of Europe", Macron told reporters in an open-air news conference at the Bregancon fortress.

Moscow has been rocked by weekly protests for more than a month after the authorities barred opposition candidates from running in an election for the city's legislature in September.

Macron is hosting Putin just days before welcoming world leaders including US President Donald Trump for the August 24-26 Group of Seven (G7) summit in Biarritz on France's Atlantic Coast.