Foreign Minister provides update on Ukraine conflict
Ukraine/Russia – Excerpts from the interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to TV5 Monde
Paris, 19 February 2017
Q. – Another point of tension [is] what’s currently happening in Ukraine, with a resumption in tensions; there was Crimea. As you were saying, you met your counterpart, Sergei Lavrov; what arguments does he give you? Does he agree to acknowledge a behind-the-scenes intervention by Russia, or is it still denial?
THE MINISTER – They can’t be in denial because they’re around the table to implement the Minsk agreements. There’s always/still a reference to the Minsk agreements. Those who thought the Minsk agreements were dead were mistaken, because both sides – Ukrainians and Russians – refer to them and accept what’s called the Normandy format, i.e. the Franco-German mediation. We had this meeting – there will be others –, but at the same time it’s quite demoralizing on the ground, because the situation is worsening. My German colleague Sigmar Gabriel and I discussed very concrete things.
We wanted results: namely, a ceasefire and the pull-out and renunciation of heavy weapons from 20 February onwards. And there was an agreement between the Ukrainians and Russians. The Russians are talking on behalf of the separatists, so they are indeed involved and are indeed obliged to admit that they came to the separatists’ support, which sparked off the hostilities. I remind you that the war in Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives in Europe. It was the first time since the Second World War that borders had been breached, and the inviolability of borders is part of the international order. We’re moving forward step by step, particularly with the prisoner exchanges, but they’re small steps.
Is there a real desire on both the Russian and Ukrainian side to move faster on implementing the Minsk agreement? Sometimes I doubt it, and that’s why our language is very firm, towards both the Russians and the Ukrainians./.