Since yesterday, we’ve been witnessing a sudden and concomitant explosion of violence in eastern Ukraine; there is nothing spontaneous about this violence.
France condemns this violence. We call on all parties to demonstrate restraint and to engage in dialogue in order to swiftly find a peaceful solution to the crisis. Everyone must work toward de-escalation.
The scenario we’re witnessing reminds us of the events that took place in Crimea one month ago: simultaneous action by a small number of trained and aggressive activists determined to occupy the territory; behind them, masked, disciplined and uniformed men equipped with weapons of war that can’t be found among military surplus supplies.
These facts, imposed upon us by the endless stream of Internet images, are the same ones that Russia called spontaneous demonstrations by local self-defense groups a month ago. No one believed it then. How can we believe it now? It seems that Russia, by denying the facts, isn’t aware that the Internet exists and that it is now contradicting these denials. We can’t forget that these demonstrations were a prelude to the annexation of Crimea.
Furthermore, the buildup of Russian troops for weeks now under the guise of military exercises casts a dark shadow over eastern Ukraine.
What’s more, the economic pressure is becoming even more severe. Without any dialogue with the Ukrainian party that it is grasping by the throat, Russia has sharply increased the price of gas. It is blocking the entry of goods at the border between Russia and Ukraine, no doubt trying to suffocate this country that it calls a brother.
Lastly, Russia is systematically bombarding people with messages expressing its distrust of Kiev on the radio and on television; since many people don’t have access to other sources of information, this is the only message they hear.
In this context, France commends the composure of the Ukrainian authorities, who are trying to resolve the crisis through dialogue in the midst of a cascade of destabilizing events.
It’s in this spirit that Prime Minister Yatsenyuk traveled to the regions in eastern Ukraine with specific proposals in response to the genuine questions raised by a population that is overwhelmed by propaganda, disorientated and manipulated by speeches that are extremely radical.
France has always been clear on this issue, on the issue of languages and the status of regions. We encourage the Kiev authorities to continue their efforts to make the populations see reason, to initiate constructive dialogue and reassure the populations of their place within Ukraine.
The future of Ukraine cannot be dependent upon the Ukrainians alone.
We must help the Ukrainian authorities to hold, under the best possible conditions, elections that will ensure the representation of everyone. Our message has always been clear. Progress must be made toward free and transparent presidential elections on May 25, guaranteed by the presence of international observers.
We reaffirm our attachment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
We urge Russia to make a resolute commitment to de-escalation and to condemn, together with the entire Security Council, the attempts at destabilization by armed groups in eastern Ukraine.
We call on Russia to thereby assume its role as a permanent member of the Security Council. Russia is a guarantor of peace and security around the world, in the most remote places as well as its “near abroad.” We cannot accept the use of double standards. Russia must now bring all its weight to bear in order to help Ukraine to restore stability. It must live up to its role as a pillar of Euro-Asian stability that it is trying to embody.
We hope that the proposed meeting on April 17 between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU will take place and that it will help to find solutions. This meeting is critical and we call on all parties to demonstrate calm and restraint.
In conclusion, I would like to issue a last warning. All our joint efforts to build a new international order that isn’t based on force may now end in failure. It is force and force alone that is now trying to impose its own rules.
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