BRUSSELS – French President Emmanuel Macron contacted Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday to “demand an urgent halt” to Moscow’s incursion in Ukraine, according to the Elysee Palace.

“After speaking with the Ukrainian president and working with him, the president (Macron) contacted Vladimir Putin to urge an immediate halt to Russian military actions, emphasising that Russia risks severe penalties,” the Elysee said as Macron attended an EU conference in Brussels.

Macron’s advisers’ description differed from the Kremlin’s, which stated merely that the two presidents had a “serious and candid exchange of ideas” concerning Ukraine.

Putin provided Macron a “exhaustive” explanation of why he sent his military into his pro-Western neighbour, according to the Kremlin.

Macron has emerged as the West’s point man on Putin, maintaining a line of communication in the hopes of bringing diplomacy to bear.

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