Q. – The policy of alternating between dialogue and pressure doesn’t seem to be working with Vladimir Putin. Haven’t Western diplomats underestimated the Russian President’s ability to do harm?
THE MINISTER – In this complicated and dangerous situation, our aim is to arrive at a solution which enables a ceasefire, border control and a balanced political and development project for Ukraine. With regard to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, there are two boundaries which mustn’t be crossed. The first – which a certain extremist fringe would willingly cross – consists in believing that the Kremlin’s action is by nature always legitimate and that the Russians, being our friends, can do whatever they like, and even more besides! Refusing to accept one country violating the borders of another doesn’t mean renouncing our historical and strategic relations with Russia! Conversely, are we going to declare war on Russia? Absurd!
Between these two boundaries, there are all the various levels of discussions and sanctions. Ukraine must be able to live on good terms with Russia, its neighbour, and with the European Union, which is also its neighbour. This goal is difficult to achieve and France isn’t underestimating the difficulty. In Russia, nationalist feeling has intensified; it’s difficult to make it subside. It’s the same in Ukraine.
As for France, it must be true to its principles: territorial integrity, due regard for international law and the quest for security and peace, by promoting dialogue and de-escalation, as the French President has constantly done. (…)./.