By T.N. Ashok
Washington, Dec 3 (IANS): The US and France appear to be forming a united front seeking end of the war in Ukraine as leaders of both countries are taking a common approach to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue even as Ukraine forces seem to be pushing back the Russian army in some areas.
French President Emmanuel Macron has underscored his outrage over Moscow's "attoricties" in its war against Ukraine, while the US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he is open for dialogue with Putin to end the war in Ukraine.
The war has disrupted essential supplies from Russia and Ukraine to the rest of the world besides restricting crude oil supplies resulting in soaring oil prices breaching the $100 dollar a barrel mark and threatening energy supplies like gas supplies to most European nations ahead of the winter.
At a joint press conference with Macron, Biden said: "We're going to stand together against this brutality, and we'll continue the strong support for the Ukrainian people." Biden said he has no immediate plans to contact Putin but that he is prepared to meet with the Russian leader "if he has decided he's looking for a way to end the war."
Both Biden and Putin skipped an opportunity to talk at the recent G20 summit in Bali in Indonesia where India made a strident appeal to find peaceful ways to end the war.
Biden said that he would be "happy to sit down with Putin to see what he wants or has in mind", and would do so in consultation with NATO allies, including France, USA Today quoted him as saying.
Macron, who was in Washington for a state visit, declared his intention to sit with Biden and find ways in the coming weeks and months to strengthen their support for Ukrainian troops and the Ukrainian people. "It's extremely important for the US to continue supporting Ukraine for the stability of the world," Macron said.
France had increased its military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
"We will never urge the Ukrainians to make any compromise that's unacceptable to them," he said. "If we want a sustainable peace, we have to respect the Ukrainians to decide the moment and the conditions in which they will negotiate about their territory and their future."
Ukraine has demonstrated a "genuine willingness" to discuss a negotiated end to the war, pointing to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's proposed 10-point peace plan. "The conditions the Ukrainian president has set for talks are reasonable, given that Putin is the one waging war," Macron said.
At their news conference, Biden and Macron signalled a detente over an issue that has vexed the French - US subsidies to American manufacturers. The subsidies - provided to US-made products - are included in the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping climate and health care law passed earlier this year that is one of Biden's achievements. Macron considers the subsidies protectionist and argues that they are hurting European manufacturers.
Biden suggested that the new law could be tweaked. "We can work out some of the differences that exist, I'm confident," the US president said, adding it was "never" his intention to exclude European companies.
Macron said that the two leaders agreed to resynchronise their approaches for investing in emerging industries and claimed it was not true that the US deliberately tried to shut out European companies.
Macron had been very upfront at the French embassy on Wednesday night, when he complained that the subsidies "will fragment the West because they create such differences between the US and Europe".
The French president's visit to Washington follows a long drawn out diplomatic quarrel between the allies over a submarine deal that the Biden administration struck with Australia and the UK. Australia cancelled an agreement to buy submarines from France after signing the defence pact with the US and the UK.
Macron was so enraged that he recalled the French ambassador to the US back to Paris. Macarons visit is an attempt to demonstrate that both nations have put their disputes behind them.