Putin, in turn, hailed France’s role in shaping European security and noted that he appreciates Macron’s efforts to help ensure “an equal security in Europe” and broker a settlement to the Ukrainian crisis. “I realize that we share concern about what’s going on in Europe in the security sphere,” the Russian leader said as he faced Macron across a long table.

International efforts to defuse the standoff over Ukraine intensified Monday, with French President Emmanuel Macron holding talks in Moscow and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington to coordinate policies as fears of a Russian invasion mounted, AP reports.

The buildup of an estimated 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine has fueled Western worries of a possible offensive. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Sunday that Russia could invade Ukraine “any day,” triggering a conflict that would come at an “enormous human cost.”

Russia has denied any plans to attack its neighbor but demands that the U.S. and its allies bar Ukraine and other former Soviet nations from joining NATO, halt weapons deployments there and roll back NATO forces from Eastern Europe. Washington and NATO reject those demands.

Macron called for de-escalation as he began talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. “Dialogue is necessary because that’s the only thing that will help, in my views, to build a context of a security and stability on the European continent,” Macron said, adding that he’s ready to “start building an effective response.”

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