World powers should draw "clear red lines" with Russia and consider possible sanctions when they are crossed, French President Emmanuel Macron told the US news network CBS in an interview.
"This is the only way to be credible," Macron said, according to a video excerpt of the interview, which was recorded on Friday and due to be aired later yesterday.
"Sanctions are not sufficient in themselves but sanctions are part of the package," he said, adding that he also agreed with US President Joe Biden's willingness to open a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time of tension.
Since his election in 2017, the French leader had tried to reduce distrust between Russia and the West, hoping to enlist Moscow's help in solving the world's most intractable crises. But in an apparent shift, Macron cited the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 as an episode where Western diplomacy had been too accommodating.
Macron's comments come amid some of the worst friction between the Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.
The United States and Russia last week imposed tit-for-tat sanctions and expelled diplomats. Nato and western European countries are also concerned about rising tension between Moscow and Kyiv amid a build-up of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine and clashes in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists.
Moscow yesterday reacted furiously to Czech accusations that two Russian spies accused of a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were behind an explosion at a Czech ammunition dump four years earlier, which killed two people. Prague expelled 18 Russian diplomats on Saturday.