PARIS, April 18. / TASS /. France is committed to ironing out the crisis in eastern Ukraine in the framework of the Normandy format and looks forward to signals from Russia to reduce tensions in the region, the country’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the France-3 TV channel on Sunday.
"De-escalation is required here," the top diplomat stressed. "It is necessary for the Russian leader to give appropriate signals to reduce tensions in this region."
"We observe a significant Russia’s military buildup near the Donbass’ border as well as in Crimea. All this is unacceptable. There are the Minsk agreements and a negotiating platform - the Normandy format, where Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine are represented. And within this framework, some efforts should be taken to make progress [in resolving the crisis]. This is the way to follow," Le Drian went on to say.
The foreign minister recalled that on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron held a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky, during which the French leader "expressed his commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity." The top French diplomat also promised that he would inform his European partners about the Paris meeting’s results at the talks between the EU foreign ministers on April 19.
Situation in Donbass
In recent days, Western countries have repeatedly expressed concern about the Ukrainian military’s statements regarding the build-up of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine. Earlier, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the movement of Russian troops across the country’s own territory should not bother other states, since it did not threaten them in any way. Besides, the situation in Donbass was an internal Ukrainian conflict, in which Russian troops had never participated, he emphasized.
The Donbass conflict deteriorated in late February, almost every day the region records shellings, including the use of mortars and grenade launchers.
The conflicting sides blamed each other for aggravating the situation. On March 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a video conference with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Among other things, he expressed concern about the destabilization of the Donbass conflict by Kiev.