Amid tensions between NATO-backed Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also attended part of the meeting via a conference call.
Recent weeks had seen a flare-up of the conflict provoked by the February 2014 NATO-backed coup in Ukraine, in which Washington and Berlin backed far-right forces to topple a pro-Russian government in Kiev.
The coup rapidly split the country along linguistic lines, as Russian-speaking areas of the country opposed the new far-right government. Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and to re-join Russia, while pro-Moscow separatists took over the Donbass in eastern Ukraine.
Tensions soared since Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president, after which the Kiev regime cut off water supplies to Crimea and adopted a “Crimean Platform” calling to militarily reconquer the Donbass and Crimea, which hosts a key Russian naval base at Sevastopol. This policy, if enacted, clearly entails going to war with Russia. Moscow retaliated by massing troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border and threatening to seal off parts of the Black Sea.
After Zelensky’s meeting with Macron, Zelensky issued a statement calling for resumption of talks between Moscow and Kiev, mediated by Berlin and Paris. He said, “I would like all four of us to participate the security situation in the east of Ukraine and to end the occupation of our territory.”
Berlin and Paris both issued statements generally supporting Zelensky and blaming Russia for the conflict. In a communiqué, the German Chancellery stressed its “concern at the increase in Russian troops along the border with Ukraine” and called for a withdrawal “of these reinforcements so that we can achieve de-escalation.”
In Paris, the presidential palace declared its “support” for Ukrainian sovereignty and stressed that “Volodymyr Zelensky expressed on his part a very clear wish for de-escalation.” It added that the talks between Merkel, Macron and Zelensky had centred on “the search for a political solution to the crisis and the means to bring Russia back on board in negotiations.”
It added that officials from Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine would meet in order to prepare a new round of talks on the “Normandy format.” The “Normandy format” talks began in 2015. Over the past six years, the Normandy format talks failed to resolve the conflict.