• France's news in English

France to Russia: Seizing Crimea is 'unacceptable'

AFP/The Local · 12 Mar 2014, 16:11

Published: 12 Mar 2014 16:11 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Crimea joining Russia would amount to an "unacceptable annexation," French President Francois Hollande told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in a telephone conversation.

Hollande also said a referendum due on Sunday in Crimea on joining Russia has "no legal basis" and stressed there was still time to "prevent a dangerous and fruitless escalation," his office said in a statement.

After the phone call Russia confirmed that France's foreign and defence ministers will visit Moscow next week.

"It has been agreed to continue the discussion including during a visit to Moscow by the French foreign and defence ministers, planned for March 18," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Russian troops took control of Crimea shortly after Ukraine's pro-Kremlin leader Viktor Yanukovych was ousted last month, in what is Moscow's first military involvement in a neighbouring country since its brief 2008 war with Georgia.

Hollande called for a withdrawal of Russian troops from the region and asked Moscow to "respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Ukraine, the statement said.

He said a presidential election due on May 25 in Ukraine to be held under international supervision and in the "greatest transparency will ensure the success of the political transition underway in Ukraine".

Earlier on Wednesday The Group of Seven most developed economies also called on Russia to stop all efforts to "annex" Ukraine's Crimea region, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

G7 leaders, European Council head Hermann Van Rompuy "and I will in a new declaration call on Russia to cease all efforts to annex Ukraine's autonomous republic of Crimea," Barroso said in a tweeted message.

"Together with other G7 leaders, Van Rompuy and myself have strongly and unequivocally condemned this action on behalf of the EU," Barroso said.

The announcement will be made at 1300 GMT, he added.

Earlier this month, the G7 countries condemned Russia, their partner in the G8, for its "clear" violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and suspended preparations for a June G8 summit in Sochi to be hosted by President Vladimir Putin.

They said Russia's actions in Ukraine were incompatible with its role in the G8, which it joined in 1997 as Moscow returned to the world stage with great fanfare after the fall of Communism.

The G7 - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States - were joined by Barroso and Van Rompuy in that statement last week.

Since then, Russia has tightened its hold on the Crimea, home to a large Russian-speaking population and the base for its Black Sea fleet.

Story continues below…

Pro-Russian leaders there have organised a referendum for Sunday on whether Crimea should join with Russia, with most expecting the vote, if it goes ahead, to produce a large majority in favour.

Barroso said the referendum was illegal and called for immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.

"Any attempt to legitimise a referendum in Crimea is contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and international law and quite clearly illegal," he said

"If meaningful negotiations do not begin within the next few days and produce results within a limited timeframe, this will trigger additional measures," he added.

The G7 announcement will be made as Ukraine interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk heads for talks with US President Barack Obama, with the pressure for more sanctions against Moscow mounting.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available