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Macron flies to Moscow in high-risk diplomatic mission

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron flies to Moscow, seeking commitments from Russian President Vladimir Putin to dial down tensions with Ukraine, where Western leaders fear the Kremlin plans an invasion.

Macron has made a frenetic series of phone calls with Western allies, Putin and the Ukrainian leader over the past week, with a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday , staking a lot of political capital on a mission that could prove embarrassing if he returns empty-handed.

Russia has massed some 100,000 troops near Ukraine and demanded NATO and U.S. security guarantees, including that NATO never admit Ukraine as a member.

Reuters reports that Macron said one aim of his visit was to buy time and freeze the situation for several months, at least until a “Super April” of elections in Europe – in Hungary, Slovenia and, crucially for Macron, in France.

The French leader, who has earned a reputation for highly publicized diplomatic forays since he took power in 2017, has both tried to cajole and confront Putin over the past five years.

His efforts have brought close dialogue with the Russian leader as well as painful setbacks.