PARIS, February 18. /TASS/. France believes that there are conditions for continuing negotiations on the crisis around Ukraine, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview with the LCI TV channel on Friday.
"The conditions for continuing talks on the Ukrainian settlement have developed," the foreign minister said. "France, however, would like to make sure that the announced withdrawal of Russian troops from the border [with Ukraine] is not a simple rotation of units. The withdrawal of forces from the border would be a good news," Le Drian stressed.
"Western countries adhere to two positions [in relations with Russia]: the position of firmness and unity, which means that in case of encroachment on the sovereignty of Ukraine, there will be large-scale sanctions, as well as positions of dialogue," the top French diplomat noted.
The West and Kiev have been echoing allegations about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as "empty and unfounded", serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such claims and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have serious consequences.