‘We must persuade Putin against force’: Hollande

As the crisis in the Ukraine intensifies French President François Hollande insisted on Monday that the election set for May 25th must go ahead "in all of the country" and Russia must be persuaded fom using violence.

'We must persuade Putin against force': Hollande
Russia must be persuaded not to use violence, says Hollande. Photo: Vasily Maximov/AFP

French President Francois Hollande said on Monday that nothing must impede the upcoming presidential vote in Ukraine, adding that Russia must be persuaded against using violence.

"The presidential election of May 25 must be held and nothing must hinder it," Hollande told reporters at a joint press conference with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

His comments came as European leaders, fearing an outbreak of full-scale civil war, are desperately seeking to force Ukraine and Russia to find a negotiated solution.

Hollande said the presidential ballot "must be held in all of Ukraine, which implies that a general agreement must be found so that the election and its result are accepted."

There have been heavy clashes around the eastern town of Slavyansk, the epicentre of the armed pro-Russian insurgency, which has seen the separatists holding more than two dozen towns.

Hollande said the aim was to "convince the Russian authorities and especially President (Vladimir) Putin that the only path possible is dialogue and therefore a de-escalation."

Abe said Moscow "continues to fan tensions" and underscored the need for a successful election in Ukraine.

Russia denies any hand in the violence in eastern and southern Ukraine.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius earlier Monday slammed Russia for double standards, saying it was "contradictory" to oppose elections in Ukraine while urging Syrians to vote in elections due in June.

Moscow has criticised as "absurd" plans to hold the presidential election given the violence raging across Ukraine.

But this stance has raised warnings from the United States and Germany of tougher sanctions on the Russian economy.

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Russia announces no New Year’s greetings for France, US, Germany

US President Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not be receiving New Year's greetings from Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Russia announces no New Year's greetings for France, US, Germany

As the world gears up to ring in the New Year this weekend, Putin sent congratulatory messages to the leaders of Kremlin-friendly countries including Turkey, Syria, Venezuela and China.

But Putin will not wish a happy New Year to the leaders of the United States, France and Germany, countries that have piled unprecedented sanctions on Moscow over Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

“We currently have no contact with them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“And the president will not congratulate them given the unfriendly actions that they are taking on a continuous basis,” he added.

Putin shocked the world by sending troops to pro-Western Ukraine on February 24.

While Kyiv’s Western allies refused to send troops to Ukraine, they have been supplying the ex-Soviet country with weapons in a show of support that has seen Moscow suffer humiliating setbacks on the battlefield.