France responds to Russia’s Donbass recognition
France on Monday condemned Russia’s decision to recognize “separatist regions in eastern Ukraine” as a violation of the country’s sovereignty. President Emmanuel Macron has called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council and for EU sanctions to be imposed in response.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement recognizing the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states is “clearly a unilateral violation of Russia’s international commitments and an attack on Ukraine's sovereignty,” Macron said in a statement.
The French leader then got on the phone to his US counterpart Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. A White House readout of the call said the trio “strongly condemned” the Russian recognition of “the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine” and will “continue to coordinate their response on [their] next steps.”
According to Berlin, all three leaders agreed that Russia’s “unilateral step” is a violation of the Minsk Protocol – an effort by Germany, France and Russia to mediate the conflict in Ukraine – and “will not remain unanswered.”
“Germany, France and the US harshly condemn the Russian president's decision,” said the German readout of the call.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has already warned that the EU will “react with unity” to Russia’s recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence from Kiev in 2014, after US-backed nationalists violated the power-sharing agreement brokered by France and Germany, and ousted the government in the so-called “Maidan” coup. Moscow had refused to recognize the republics previously, insisting that it was up to them and Kiev to reach an agreement on their future status through negotiations.
Several attempts by the Ukrainian military to seize the regions after the coup failed, resulting in the 2015 armistice in Minsk. Kiev has since refused to negotiate with the breakaway regions, while the US and NATO accused Russia of failing to abide by the process.
In his speech on Monday evening, Putin said his decision to recognize the two regions was a long overdue response to Ukraine becoming a “colony” of the West. Arguing that Ukraine has fallen under the rule of a “Russophobic” government, the Russian leader has accused Kiev of pursuing a policy of denying ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers basic human rights.