Official speeches and statements - March 18, 2022
1. Moldova - Conversation between Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian and Mr. Nicu Popescu, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration - Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - March 17, 2022)
Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke today to Mr. Nicu Popescu, Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration. Their discussion focused on the implementation of France’s action plan to support Moldova in dealing with the consequences of the war in Ukraine, which was prepared following the Minister’s on-the-spot visit on March 3. The two ministers prepared for the meeting of the Council of the European Union on March 21, in which Mr. Popescu will participate.
In the humanitarian sphere, through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM), France is providing Moldova with 37 tonnes of emergency equipment to take in refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, as well as nearly 10,000 hygiene kits.
In the energy sphere, the Minister announced that 17 large-capacity generators would be sent to Moldova in the coming days, intended to strengthen the electricity resilience of Moldova’s health system. The company Enedis has offered seven units and 10 others have been purchased with donations from local authorities and businesses which were paid into the dedicated support fund set up by the Ministry. Four volunteers from the NGO Electriciens sans frontières [Electricians without borders] will be deployed on the ground to get the generators up and running.
Mr. Le Drian highlighted the involvement of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union in considerably speeding up Moldova’s connection - in the same way as Ukraine’s - to the European Network of Transmission System Operators. The connection has been live since 16 March. We are also continuing our efforts to help diversify Moldova’s hydrocarbon supply sources and support its energy security policies.
In the area of economic support, France backs the mobilization of European aid, in particular macro-financial assistance to the tune of €150 million. At bilateral level, France will also provide a public policy loan of €50 million from the French Development Agency and release a new bilateral loan of €15 million for Moldova. These financial measures will enable Moldova to deal with the economic consequences of the conflict in Ukraine.
With regard to managing borders and taking care of refugees, the French presidency of the Council of the European Union strongly backs speeding up the establishment of an agreement between the European Union and Moldova that will enable the Frontex agency to be deployed very quickly in support of the Moldovan authorities to deal with flows of people linked to the Ukraine war. France will contribute to this effort by sending border police personnel, who will carry out operational tasks alongside the other European contingents and the Moldovan authorities.
France will also contribute to the European solidarity effort in aid of refugees, by welcoming, in the coming days, people currently on Moldovan territory. Alongside our partners who have made similar commitments and in conjunction with the European institutions, we are coordinating the practical details of these relocation arrangements.
2. Ukraine - Conversation between Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and his Ukrainian counterpart - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson - Excerpt (Paris - March 17, 2022)
Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke today with Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba.
The two ministers reviewed in detail the support provided jointly to Ukraine by France and its partners as a consequence of the war provoked by Russia. The Minister confirmed that a €300 million financial assistance package will be released in the coming days in line with the French President’s commitment to President Zelenskyy. He pledged to continue our efforts at the European level to increase the cost that continuing its military operations would represent for Russia. He also presented the various aspects of the humanitarian aid provided by France to people both inside and outside of Ukraine who are affected by the war.
The Minister very strongly condemned Russian military actions against civilian populations and population centers in violation of international humanitarian law. He called for the urgent establishment of a complete ceasefire throughout Ukrainian territory, as the International Court of Justice asked Russia to implement yesterday. Only such a ceasefire can make it possible for serious negotiations to end the conflict. Lastly, the minister addressed the importance of the discussions taking place under the auspices of the IAEA regarding the security and safety of Ukraine’s civilian nuclear facilities.
This morning, Russia is once again attempting to use this Council to launder its disinformation, spread its propaganda, and justify its unprovoked and brutal attack on Ukraine. We know this because it’s a well-worn playbook. Just one week ago, they convened the Council under precisely the same pretenses, and we heard a litany of bombastic and preposterous lies.
This meeting, and these lies, are designed for one purpose: to deflect responsibility for Russia’s war of choice and the humanitarian catastrophe it has caused. As you all know - and as we must remind the public - it is Moscow that has long maintained a biological weapons program in violation of international law - not Ukraine. It is Moscow that has a well-documented history of using chemical weapons - not Ukraine. And it is Moscow that started this senseless war.
So, we are here today to call Russia to account. To speak the truth. And to ensure their lies and disinformation are met with fact. It must also be said that Russia is abusing its responsibilities and privileges as a permanent member of the Security Council. Our mandate is to serve as a venue for achieving peace through diplomacy.
Russia’s subversion of our mission, and its horrific campaign of violence against the Ukrainian people, are deeply shameful. We will continue to ensure their tactics are met with a forceful chorus of voices from across the international community prepared to stand with Ukraine and stand up for the UN Charter.
[translation from French]
I would like to thank Ms. Nakamitsu for her statement,
I will be very brief, because everything has already been said last week. I have not heard any new information this morning. In any case, no new credible information.
Russia is mounting a disinformation campaign. This meeting is not based on any proven facts. Ukraine has no biological weapons programs. It is complying with its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention. The United Nations made it clear last week and again this morning that it has no knowledge of the existence of such programs.
Russia, on the other hand, has repeatedly used chemical weapons in recent years. It has supported the Syrian regime, it has used them itself in the UK and on its own territory in targeted assassination attempts. By inventing an alternative reality, it seeks to hide its responsibility and cover up its own crimes.
France is very concerned about the possibility that this disinformation campaign is a prelude to the use of a chemical or biological weapon in Ukraine. If such attacks were to take place, there would be only one responsible and that would be Russia.
The use of such weapons, banned by international law, would be an intolerable escalation of the conflict. The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has stated it unambiguously: such attacks would lead to even more massive economic sanctions in response.
Finally, I regret that the Security Council is being used by one of its permanent members as a propaganda platform.
I thank you.
I would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees and the Director-General of the World Health Organization for their briefings.
With the impartiality and rigor that characterize the work of the United Nations, these briefings have demonstrated the reality of the war waged by the Russian Federation over the past three weeks.
This reality is the death of innocent civilians, as well as journalists and medical personnel. It is the chaos created throughout Ukraine, and far beyond, including the worsening of food insecurity in the world. It is the millions of shattered lives of all those who are forced to flee their homes and who find no relief even in hospitals or schools. With its European partners, France will continue to mobilize to welcome these refugees. It will continue to support the Ukrainians. It has released 100 million euros for this purpose.
France calls on Russia to immediately stop this bloody war and to comply with the ruling of the International Court of Justice issued yesterday.
It condemns in the strongest terms the siege of several Ukrainian cities and the indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations. It calls on Russia to comply with international humanitarian law, to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to allow the delivery of aid. Attacks against hospitals constitute war crimes. France also condemns the actions that targeted journalists and recalls the obligation of the armed forces to protect them. France is particularly concerned by reports of the use of cluster bombs by Russia.
France condemns once again the support of the Belarusian regime for this murderous war. It denounces the use by Russia of mercenaries, notably Syrian, which cannot exonerate it from its responsibility. It must be held accountable for its crimes. France welcomes the opening of an investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
Finally, it denounces the cynicism of Russia, which claims in New York to be concerned about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine when it is the sole cause of this situation. The Russian draft resolution deceives no one. It should not be supported. To support it would be to give Russia a blank check to continue the war.
Despite the destruction and suffering, the war in Ukraine has revealed another reality.
The Ukrainian people have shown admirable resistance. France salutes their courage and that of the Ukrainian authorities.
The international community is united in condemning the aggression. Many countries, including France, immediately took measures targeting the Russian authorities and economic circles close to power to deprive them of resources and prevent them from continuing this war. These sanctions have already proven their effectiveness and will continue to be strengthened to increase the cost of the war until the Russian authorities renounce violence.