Hollande: Make peace quickly in Ukraine

After France helped hammer out an accord to stop the violent clashes in Ukraine between pro-democracy and government forces, President François Hollande urged both sides to fully implement the deal.

Hollande: Make peace quickly in Ukraine
A deal to end the violence in Ukraine may be close. Photo: AFP

French President Francois Hollande on Friday called for Ukraine's government and opposition to implement fully and quickly a deal on ending the country's crisis.

"After the unacceptable, intolerable and unjustifiable violence that plunged Ukraine into mourning in recent days, the president calls for the full and timely implementation of the deal that has just been signed," Hollande said in a statement.

Three of the leaders of the opposition, which have been in increasingly bloody clashes with security forces in recent days, and Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych inked a deal that calls for new presidential elections and reduces Yanukovych's powers.

The preliminary deal between the opposition and the government was reached after difficult negotiations that included France, Poland and Germany. News of the accord came after another bloody day for pro-democracy activists who claimed 60 demonstrators were killed in fighting with police in Kiev on Thursday.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday that the European Union was preparing to impose targeted sanctions against those behind Ukraine's violence.

Live stream of the events in in Kiev's Independence Square. (Warning: The reports are not in English)

Speaking to Europe 1 radio from Ukraine before meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych, Fabius said he would present plans for sanctions against certain officials, including visa bans and the freezing of assets.

"We need to hit people in the pocketbooks in these cases," said Fabius, who was joined in Ukraine for the talks by his German and Polish counterparts, ahead of a meeting of all EU foreign ministers later Thursday.

"I will tell him (Yanukovych) that he must stop the violence, which is obviously unacceptable, and that we are preparing this afternoon to take sanctions against those responsible for the violence," Fabius said.

He expressed doubts over the willingness of Ukraine's government to compromise.

"There is an enormous amount of work to do but we are confronted with the obvious unwillingness of the authorities, who for now are not budging."

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Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.