The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 continues, with casualties rising on both sides.
US President Joe Biden said Thursday he is prepared to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin about ending the conflict in Ukraine but emphasized that the Russian leader has not yet demonstrated a willingness.
“There’s one way for this war to end: the rational way, for Putin to pull out of Ukraine,” Biden said during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “He’s apparently not going to do that. He’s paying a very heavy price for failing to do it, he’s inflicting incredible, incredible carnage on the civilian population of Ukraine.”
Still, the US president said that while he has “no immediate plans” to speak with his Russian counterpart, should Putin decide he is interested in ending the conflict “I’d be happy to sit down with Putin to see what he has in mind.”
“He hasn’t done that yet. In the meantime, I think it’s absolutely critical — what Emmanuel said — we must support the Ukrainian people. The idea that Putin is ever going to defeat Ukraine is beyond comprehension,” he added.
The comments came as Biden honors Macron with the first state visit of his nearly two-year presidency, with the leaders discussing a wide range of topics, including the war in Ukraine, trade and energy.
Regarding Ukraine, Macron said France “will never urge Ukrainians to make a compromise which will not be acceptable for them, because they are so brave, and they defend precisely their lives, their nation, and our principles.”
“We have to respect Ukrainians to decide the moment and the conditions in which they will negotiate about their territory and their future,” he said.
On trade, the leaders discussed Biden’s recently-passed signature climate law, which includes incentives for US manufacturing of clean energy technologies that have been a focus of consternation in Europe and France.
Biden acknowledged what he called “glitches” in the $360 billion Inflation Reduction Act, saying they are bound to occur in such a massive spending bill. The president said he makes “no apology” for the law, but vowed to work with Macron and other European leaders to alleviate their concerns.
“We’re back in business. Europe is back in business. And we’re going to continue to create manufacturing jobs in America, but not at the expense of Europe,” he added.
Macron said the US and France would “resynchronize” their approach “to clarify our goals and continue together. The discussion we had this morning was extremely clear.”
“We will work on the technical elements to make sure that there is no domino effect on ongoing projects in Europe. We want to succeed together not one against the other,” he added.
The presidents said in a statement released after their closed-door meetings that France and the US “look forward” to the work of a bilateral task force that will examine the Inflation Reduction Act “to further strengthen the U.S.-EU partnership on clean energy and climate through mutually beneficial ways.”
Biden and first lady Jill Biden will host Macron and his wife during a state dinner at the White House later Thursday.