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French foreign minister distorts Putin’s comment regarding Donbass — Kremlin

Dmitry Peskov said that such statements by no means helped achieve a solution but merely worsened the situation

MOSCOW, February 17. /TASS/. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has criticized French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for disclosing the details of a conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron concerning the State Duma’s message on the issue of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics. In particular, he pointed out that some nuances were distorted. Le Drian earlier said that Putin had allegedly told Macron at negotiations in Moscow that the call for the recognition of the self-proclaimed republics came from the Communist Party and he would not take it into account.

Peskov said that such statements by no means helped achieve a solution but merely worsened the situation. He stressed that Moscow respected the French foreign minister’s efforts for promoting a settlement in Donbass and developing Russian-French relations, "but in this particular case such statements disclose the gist and content of confidential negotiations between the heads of state."

"This is against our rules. We never do that and we do not regard it correct, because next time this would prevent the leaders from having confidential conversations with each other. If leaders cannot be certain that all they may say will not be in all mass media in a few days, they will feel their freedom of maneuver in discussing very sensitive and complicated subjects is restricted. It is very important that the French foreign minister distorted the nuances. In a very sensitive and dramatic situation like this it is extremely harmful," Peskov said.

Against the rules

Peskov told the media that Moscow never permitted the disclosure of the details of Putin’s meetings with the leaders of other countries behind closed doors, but in a situation that emerged in the wake of the French foreign minister’s statement he decided to read out part of the transcript of that conversation to make it clear how Le Drian distorted what Putin actually said.

"I will just read out for you word for word what was said there to remind you how important it is to avoid distorting the shades of meaning. I will certainly read it out. Possibly, I will be punished for this, but I will do this anyway," Peskov said.

A little while later, when extracts from a transcript of the Macron-Putin meeting were brought to him, Peskov read it out for the journalists present.

The Kremlin official said that the Putin-Macron conversation in the Kremlin on February 7 took place before the State Duma addressed the president with a call for recognizing the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. "There is no bill. Nobody has submitted it. Such a bill does not exist," Peskov cited the Russian leader as saying. "I’ve read it out word for word. Do make it public, please," Peskov asked the journalists, adding that mass media workers could easily see the nuances.

The Kremlin spokesman answered in the affirmative, when asked if Putin did not say that the State Duma’s initiative could not be taken into account.

"What was actually said there is this: a question was asked about a bill and explanations followed that it was not a bill but merely an initiative and no bill on that score existed. Everything is different. On the face of it it’s the same, yet it’s different," Peskov concluded.