‘If Poroshenko wants peace, he can stop shelling of Donbass’
French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko met in Paris on Wednesday. They discussed opening up a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens in Europe, sending peacekeepers to the Donbass region and providing Ukrainian army with weapons.
RT:President Hollande specifically said that the possibility of making Europe visa-free for Ukrainians is not on the table. Are the French President's concerns justified?
Robert Oulds: Currently, many European countries have severe problem regarding immigration. France, Great Britain, even Germany have big problems where many people have come from Eastern Europe. And this is pushing tension to the fore in Britain and particularly in France with the growth of the Front National there is a move where people want less immigration, they want their own country to control their own borders. So, it would be politically untenable for a French President or leader of any other Western European country to open up to Ukraine, a country [of around] 45 million people that has severe economic problems. There would be just too many people that wouldn’t be able to be absorbed within countries such as France. And this is something that EU is aiming at creating - easier travel for people from Ukraine to European nations, EU countries. This will not be delivered any time soon because of the ongoing political, social, and economic problems revolving around unchecked immigration into Western Europe.
RT:Another issue discussed was sending peacekeepers to Ukraine. Hollande said that France would play its part in sending peacekeepers to the Donbass region, but they need a decision of the UN Security Council first. That's despite Poroshenko specifically saying that peacekeepers are a must for Ukraine. What do you make of the French leader's reticence in sending anyone there?
RO: That was a very clever statement by Hollande saying that there needs to be a resolution of the UN beforehand. That of course would be vetoed by Russia. It is politically unacceptable for Western European countries, NATO to be sending troops into Ukraine. That would just make the situation worse. And it is very rich of Poroshenko to be talking about peacekeepers... I am in Donetsk at the moment... If Poroshenko wants to deliver peace he can stop the shelling and the gunfire which I have experienced today at first hand. If he wants peace, take away the weapons from the frontline and stop attacking the people of the Donbass region.
RT:Finally, President Hollande stressed that no lethal weapons would be sent to Ukraine. How will President Poroshenko react, and what's he going to tell his government?
RO: Poroshenko wants more weapons to continue the war; he is not interested in peace. In fact, peace for him will be difficult to make because of so many elements within the Ukrainian government, its various extremist groups that do not want peace but want a military solution. When we talk about non-lethal aid, in many cases that can have deadly effects ... There’s been the supplying to the Ukrainian armed forces of what is known as non-lethal equipment, but of course that has an effect in terms of technology that allows them to better use artillery. That has a deadly affect. There may be non-lethal equipment being supplied but that just adds to the already quite lethality of the Ukrainian army which has killed many people so far, driven millions of people out of their homes, most of which have taken refuge within Russia. Western European countries should stop encouraging Poroshenko, should start putting pressure on the Ukrainian government to make peace, to fully respect the Minsk II agreement...
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.