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Published on May 20, 2014
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to BBC World News (excerpts)

Paris, May 16, 2014


Q. – Let’s move on to Ukraine, because you’ve also blamed Russia for the situation in Ukraine. You said a month ago that “violence has erupted in the east of the country”. “The origin – and this must be said clearly – is Russia”.

THE MINISTER – You’ve got an extremely serious crisis in Ukraine; we’re not far off civil war, there are major clashes. This might seem completely unbelieveable because it’s a few hundred kilometres from us, but that’s the situation. So our goal is to support the election planned on 25 May. We’re going to do everything – by sending observers and facilitating things – for this election to take place.

Q. – We’ll come back to this, but I asked you if you blame Russia for what’s happened in Ukraine?

THE MINISTER – We spoke out many times when Russia annexed Crimea, which is completely against all the rules of international law.

You can’t accept a country violating borders. When Russia masses a number of troops near Ukraine’s eastern border, it obviously isn’t a friendly gesture. At the same time – I’m being very realistic saying this – we’re not going to wage war on Russia; we’re not going to start a world war; no reasonable person would do that.

So there are two limits, so to speak, between which diplomacy must be deployed. On the one hand, we must react, particularly with regard to Russia, and, on the other, there’s no question of waging war.
So what have we got at our disposal? Negotiation, discussion, including with the Russians, and also sanctions.

This is why we’ve already adopted two levels of sanctions.
But let’s be very careful about this; our goal isn’t for Ukraine to be wholly with the European Union or for Ukraine to be wholly with Russia. Ukraine must, ideally, enjoy good relations with both Russia and the European Union. We’re trying to work towards this.

Q. – The Russians and many in the east of the country are saying it’s because you’re supporting an unconstitutional Kiev government. The Russian Foreign Minister used words such as “anti-Semites, radicals, neo-fascists…”.

THE MINISTER – (…) What actually happened? There was a president in Ukraine, Mr Yanukovych. The people rose up against him and he left.

Q. – But what’s in his place?

THE MINISTER – The government which took over is a government headed by Mr Yatsenyuk, a democrat who was installed by an assembly called the Rada.

Then there were uprisings in the eastern part of the country, clashes, wrongdoings were committed. Our role isn’t to take the place of Ukraine, but to ensure that a start is made on de-escalation. To do this, it’s necessary to try and prepare the presidential election and, at the same time, what’s happening right now today, i.e. a national dialogue. (…)./.

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