Francois Hollande states that Moscow has no military plans concerning Ukraine but does not welcome Kiev’s ambition to join NATO.
PARIS, January 5 (Sputnik) — Moscow has no plans to invade eastern Ukraine but would not like to see Kiev join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), French President Francois Hollande said on Monday.
“I know that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin does not want to annex eastern Ukraine. He told me so himself. At the same time, what he wants is for Ukraine not to fall into the NATO camp,” Hollande said in a live interview with French Inter radio.
On December 23, the Ukrainian parliament scrapped its non-aligned status and resumed a course to join NATO. President Petro Poroshenko signed the bill into law, saying his predecessor’s decision to reverse course in 2010 was a strategic mistake. He added that the country would finalize its decision to join the military bloc within the next five to six years.
Russia’s NATO envoy Alexander Grushko stated that the bloc was using the crisis in Ukraine as an excuse to boost its military presence along the Russian border. According to Grushko, the Ukrainian legislature’s decision was an unambiguous blow to European security.
The French president reiterated the Western demands to Moscow that have led to the current geopolitical standoff.
“What do we want from Mr. Putin? What we want is that he respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine. What we want is that he does not support the separatists… This is what we have been seeking for months — to reach an agreement,” Hollande stated in Monday’s interview.
Moscow has repeatedly denied its involvement in the eastern Ukrainian conflict and has called any charges to the contrary groundless. The Russian Defense Ministry has said repeatedly that it has not provided ammunition or other military assistance to militias in east Ukraine.
Russia has expressed interest in Ukraine’s ability to overcome its political and economic crisis, calling on all those concerned to urge Kiev to implement the peace settlement agreements reached in Minsk last year.
In mid-December, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told France 24 TV channel that Putin had earlier reconfirmed his words to Hollande that Russia supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity. According to Lavrov, Crimea’s reunification was the “will of the people,” and that Ukraine in its current “territorially integral” form should be supported.