French President Emmanuel Macron (L) greets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as he arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris in December. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo
March 12 (UPI) -- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday for more than an hour to call for a cease-fire in Ukraine and a diplomatic end to the invasion.
The call was revealed by German spokesman Steffen Hebestreit in a rare call readout detailing the interaction of Scholz with other world leaders.
"During the 75-minute conversation, the chancellor and the French president urged an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine and a diplomatic solution to the conflict. It was agreed not to disclose any further content of the conversation," Hebestreit said in the statement.
The Kremlin confirmed the call in a statement and indicated that Scholz and Macron had raised concerns about the humanitarian crisis in the country amid the invasion.
Putin reiterated allegations to Scholz and Macron that Ukrainian forces had taken hostages in the country to use as human shields and other "gross violations of the international humanitarian law," according to the Kremlin statement. Western leaders have repeatedly called such allegations false.
"Nationalist battalions regularly sabotage rescue operations and threaten civilians when they attempt to evacuate," the Kremlin said. "Vladimir Putin urged Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz to influence Kyiv authorities so as to stop such criminal acts."
A source from Elysee Palace, the French presidential administration, told CNN after the call that Putin seemed to still be "determined to achieve his objectives in Ukraine" after Macron and Scholz raised concerns about the Russian detention of Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fyodorov.
"We pleaded for an immediate cease-fire and for the start of negotiations on three points: the questions relative to security, those that relate to Ukrainian sovereignty and third, those issues raised by both Ukraine and Russia recently," the source told CNN.
The call with Putin came after Scholz and Macron held a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to Hebestreit. Zelensky confirmed in a statement that he had met with the leaders of France and Germany.
"We discussed countering the aggressor, Russian Federation crimes against civilians. I ask my partners to help in releasing the captive mayor of Melitopol. Prospects for peace talks also discussed," Zelensky said. "We must stop the aggressor together."
Data from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees shows that nearly 2.6 million refugees have fled the country since the invasion began Feb. 24. More than 1.5 million have fled to Poland alone.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu held a joint press conference on Saturday in which they said members of the European Union and other nations need "to step up" and do more for the refugees.
The German Foreign Office said that it would bring 2,500 refugees who fled Ukraine to Moldova to Germany and will deliver essential goods such as mattresses, sleeping bags and heaters.
European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo