Speaking at a press conference after talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, French President Emmanuel Macron denied having spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about a possible “Finlandization” of Ukraine, which would imply Ukraine adopting a neutral status and scrapping NATO aspirations. He also stated that implementing the Minsk protocols is the way to de-escalate military tensions, and that there is a need to create a “new defense and security order for all of us and which would suit everyone on the continent.”
Answering a journalist’s question during the 8 February press conference, Macron stated the following:
“You used the word ‘Finlandization’ of Ukraine. I don’t know what you are talking about. I haven’t heard that. I spoke in a different context. That we can’t stop NATO’s ‘open door’ policy, because for many countries it will be a problem, especially for Finland. But I have never used such a term for Ukraine.”
In the French President’s opinion, the way to de-escalate the military tensions lies in the implementation of the Minsk protocols by all parties and called on Ukraine to implement them.
According to Macron, at a meeting of political advisers to the leaders of the Normandy format on January 26, “Ukraine confirmed that it is ready to move forward through these agreements.” A similar readiness, according to the French president, was expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin the day before.
As well, Macron said it was necessary to return to the system of guarantees that used to ensure the security and defense order in Europe.
“It is my intention, this is what I came to both Moscow and Kyiv — to restore the security and defense order on the European continent. In the context of security challenges, we need to return to certain guarantee systems that would guarantee this order for all of us,” he said.
The French President did not clarify what that could imply.
Macron added that he discussed this issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the President of Ukraine, and is constantly discussing this with European and American partners.
“In the coming days and months, we need to do everything together so that we can use new security assurance mechanisms to present guarantees and obtain, so to speak, a significant de-escalation and a significant increase in security,” he added.
Macron announced in the coming weeks a broad dialogue on security and the establishment of a new defense and security order that would suit everyone on the continent.
“We have a very difficult task ahead of us in the coming weeks. First, we need to continue methodically and decisively to the end of the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Second. A broad innovative dialogue on security issues, which would create a new defense and security order for all of us and which would suit everyone on the continent,” he said.
The French president also noted that his talks with Putin and Zelenskyy had contributed to progress towards security in the region.
“[During] the discussions I had with President Putin and President Zelenskyy, we were able to make some progress to advance the region’s security.… After discussions in the Trilateral Contact Group, we may be able to help get the documents signed in 2015 have been clarified so that [we] can resolve differences and help restore mutual trust.”
Macron arrived in Kyiv after meeting with President Putin in Moscow. Speaking at a press conference afterward, he made a statement confirming that Ukraine withdrew a crucial bill upholding its interests in the Minsk process at Russia’s behest in order to get a Normandy meeting. Kyiv had denied such an incident took place.
Discussions of Ukraine’s “Finlandization” with Putin?
The meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy took two hours; meanwhile, talks with his Russian counterpart in Moscow lasted five.
Speaking with the Journal du Dimanche ahead of the meeting with Putin, the French president stated he believes that Russia is legitimately expressing its own security concerns, and an agreement that will avoid a war in Ukraine is possible.
Macron told the Journal that Russia’s goal is “not Ukraine, but clarification of rules … with NATO and the EU.”
The French president, who also spoke with US President Joe Biden on Sunday, said he considered it wrong to expect Moscow to take unilateral measures to de-escalate the situation, and said Russia had the right to express its own concerns.
“We must protect our European brothers by proposing a new balance capable of preserving their sovereignty and peace,” Macron said.
Meanwhile, the French media Le Figaro wrote that on the plane taking him to Moscow, Macron told several journalists that the idea of a “Finlandization” of Ukraine was one of several issues for discussion with Putin.
“Putin wants a profound change in NATO policy. A solution needs to be found so that this security space, which is NATO, can coexist with Russia. One of such options is Ukraine’s non-accession to NATO,” Le Figaro quoted the French President as saying.
However, he assured that nothing would be done without Ukraine’s consent.
The French president said in Moscow yesterday that his goal was to achieve concrete security guarantees for all states in the region, including Russia, Ukraine, and EU members.
For several months, Moscow has been saber-rattling on Ukraine’s borders, moving troops and equipment. Against this backdrop, Russia issued demands for security guarantees — that NATO return to its pre-1997 borders and rule out the accession of Ukraine and Georgia to the Alliance.
These demands were rejected by NATO and the US.
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