Kay Burley spoke to Paul Scully and asked the minister about Emmanuel Macron’s progress with Vladimir Putin as both sides promised a “diplomatic solution” on Ukraine with a planned US-Russian summit. Mr Burley underscored the fact to Mr Scully and said Mr Macron had made more progress than Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who was described as ‘mute and deaf’ as the talks failed to deliver a lot of progress. Mr Scully hit back at the claim, saying Ms Truss must have been saying things that were uncomfortable to listen to, hence the hostile reception from Russia.
Speaking on Sky News, Ms Burley wondered how much Europe and NATO might owe Emmanuel Macron following relatively fruitful talks with Mr Putin.
She asked Mr Scully: “How much do we take our hat off to President Macron’s soft diplomacy?
“Who again was yesterday on the phone with President Putin for almost two hours.
“And it looks like we could potentially be moving towards some sort of summit between the Americans and the Russians as a direct result of President Macron’s involvement?”
Mr Scully diverted the attention of the French president and said: “I think what is really good is that all the NATO countries are working very closely together on this file.
“So they’re all playing a leading role in making sure we can de-escalate the situation and so I hope that Vladimir Putin will take a step back from this situation which, as I said, will be quite horrific. ”
Ms Burley pushed the point and said Mr Macron ‘seems to be much more efficient than us’ and wanted to know why.
Mr Scully disagreed with the Sky News presenter, saying Ms Truss had been ‘snubbed’ when she traveled to Russia for interviews.
The Small Business Minister added: “It’s because she says things that are not really acceptable to the Russian Foreign Minister, things he doesn’t want to hear…
“I think you have to say the right and the wrong, you have to say the things they don’t want [hear] but then you have to give people a way out.
“It’s just diplomacy, that you never cut off their retreat and so I hope these two approaches come together, alongside the foreign minister’s work with Poland and Ukraine…
“And the Prime Minister being at the security conference in Munich… and people will have understood that it was right to take a step back.”
Mr Macron has proposed a summit between the United States and Russia, which was agreed in principle to ease tensions in Ukraine.
The French president spoke with Mr Putin for an hour on Sunday evening and stayed in correspondence over the weekend to arrange future talks.
It is believed that 150,000 Russian troops massed near the Ukrainian border as NATO allies tried to deter Russian aggression.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, appeared on Sky News on Sunday and dismissed suggestions of a major military build-up.
Mr Polyanskiy did not believe the West was reliable in its findings and said: “We don’t trust US and UK intelligence.
“They let us down many times, remember weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
“But in any case, you asked what they do there when they are on our territory.
“They’re not placed at the border…they’re placed where they usually are at the border.”