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Emmanuel Macron warned against trying to appease Vladimir Putin

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Latvia’s Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks branded the suggestion, which has been rejected by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, as “humiliating.”

“We should not do this. Zelensky knows what he’s doing,” Mr Pabriks told the Politico website.

“It’s humiliation for Zelensky.”

The French president, who has held several conversations with Mr Putin, is believed to have promoted the idea to allow the Russian president to save face and end his military campaign in Ukraine.

But Mr Pabriks stressed: “There are always political trends which would like to appease Russia.

“Appeasement is the worst thing, and we should learn from our history of the Second World War,” he added.

“It’s not our duty for a criminal to save face.”

Meanwhile, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis hit out at Hungary, accusing it of holding the whole of the European Union “hostage” by blocking an oil embargo on Russia.

The European Union’s top diplomat says there is no guarantee that the 27-nation bloc will be able to quickly agree on a new set of sanctions against Russia, as a small group of countries led by Hungary oppose an oil embargo.

The European Commission proposed on May 4 a sixth package of Ukraine war sanctions that included a ban on oil imports from Russia. Hungary is one of a number of landlocked countries that are highly dependent on Russian oil, along with the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Bulgaria also has reservations.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says “we will do our best in order to deblock the situation. I cannot ensure that it is going to happen because positions are quite strong.” His remarks Monday came as he prepared to chair a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers.

Mr Borrell says “that some member states face more difficulties because they are more dependent, because they are landlocked,” and that “they only have oil through pipelines, and coming from Russia”.

But Mr Landsbergis, arriving at a meeting with his counterparts in Brussels, said: “The whole union is being held hostage by one member state … we have to agree, we cannot be held hostage.”

Austria expects the European Union to agree on a sixth sanctions package on Russia in the coming days, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said.

“It is clear that there still is a certain need for discussion but I believe we should aim to have these discussions where they belong, at the council, in order not give an image of disaccord in public. Russia is watching us,” he added.

The European Union will impose a sixth sanctions package on Russia, but the bloc will need more time to find agreement, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.

“There really is no excuse not to get the package done,” he stressed.

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