September 13, 2019

Conversations about Ukraine between French and Russian leaders


“Macron is ‘renewing trust,’ ” by Vitaly Portnikov, (translation by Ukrainian Canadian Congress Daily Briefing), September 9 (

…Presidents [Emmanuel] Macron and [Vladimir] Putin spoke on the phone and allowed that a summit of the leaders of the Normandy Format [Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia] may take place in the coming weeks. And this is in the context of Putin’s recent remarks that such a meeting could only take place if it produces a “concrete result.”

This “result” will be demanded from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by both Paris and Moscow. The key moment here becomes the word “concessions” from Kyiv. French Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian said this before going to Moscow. “This is a breakthrough and we want this tendency to continue. For this, Russia should get rid of heavy weapons in the region, and Ukraine – implement institutional reforms envisaged in the Minsk agreements.”

To put it simply: constitutional autonomy for the Donbas and the end of the prospects of European and Euro-Atlantic integration for Ukraine, in exchange for a cessation of shelling of the territory under Kyiv’s control. This is what will be viewed by Paris as the next “breakthrough”; this is what will help renew trust between Paris and Moscow, and remove sanctions from Russia. The tactics are obvious, and Macron and Putin must only force Zelenskyy to submit to this de-facto capitulation of his country, under the applause of Ukrainian public – to whom it will be explained that now Russia will surely stop shooting. …