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In Paris, Ukraine's Zelenskiy Calls For Continued ‘Pressure’ On Russia, Macron Vows To Help Peace Efforts

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French President Emmanuel Macron (right) meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 17.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged his country’s European backers to keep "pressure" on Russia to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine as he met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

"The only key to peace is diplomatic and sanctions' pressure," Zelenskiy said at a joint news conference with Macron on June 17, adding: "Therefore, I am asking you to maintain this [path]."

"Europe won't feel secure as long as Russia pretends there is no rule of law," the Ukrainian president said.

Fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists holding parts of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk has killed some 13,000 people since April 2014, shortly after Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimea region.

The European Union, the United States, and other countries have imposed sanctions on Russia over Moscow's seizure of Crimea and its support for the separatists.

Macron applauded Zelenskiy's desire to end the war, saying: "You have a lot of ambition for your country and you have a lot of courage."

He also vowed to keep working to revive talks in the so-called Normandy format of countries seeking a resolution to the conflict.

"There could be a summit under the Normandy format in Paris to take account of the progress that has been achieved," the French president said.

France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia are part of the format, which has not held talks in two years. Meanwhile, cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords in September 2014 and February 2015 have failed to hold.

Zelenskiy is scheduled to meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on June 18.

A comic actor with no previous political experience, Zelenskiy beat incumbent Petro Poroshenko by a large margin in an April 21 presidential runoff. He was inaugurated as president on May 20.

Earlier this month, Zelenskiy made his first foreign trip as president to EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

During that visit, he reaffirmed Ukraine’s course toward Euro-Atlantic integration, and vowed that under his leadership the country would implement reforms and intensify the fight against corruption.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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