Hollande and Merkel to visit Kiev and Moscow

French President François Hollande will visit Kiev on Thursday along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to present a new initiative to end the Ukraine crisis. The leaders will then head to Moscow on Friday to meet Vladimir Putin.

Hollande and Merkel to visit Kiev and Moscow
Hollande and Merkel will head to Kiew and Moscow with a new peace initiative. Photo: AFP

Hollande announced to the media on Thursday that he and along with Merkel will fly to Ukraine and then Moscow to present a new plan to end the conflict in the east of the country.

"We will propose a new solution to the conflict based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We will discuss it with President (Petro) Poroshenko today and on Friday in Moscow with the Russian president," Hollande said at his biannual press conference.

Other than arming Ukraine "there is another option, it is not certain it will succeed but if we don't try we will never know. That is the option of diplomacy, negotiation (but) that cannot go on indefinitely," Hollande told journalists.

"It cannot be the said that we didn't do everything to preserve peace," Hollande said. "Peace is threatened on Europe's borders. Ukraine is at war."

He continued: "We think that war is for others, it's not for our generation, it's for our grand parents. But a few hours away from France by plane, there are men and women who dying every day.

"There are heavy weapons, artillery fire, there are hostilities," he said.

Hollande noted that a volley of sanctions against Russia had failed to "stop hostilities" and said he and Merkel had come up with a new initiative in a bid to stem fighting between Kiev and separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow denies allegations by Ukraine and its Western allies that it is sending thousands of regular army troops and weapons to support the rebels.

The fighting has claimed more than 5,358 lives since April, including some 220 in just the past three weeks, according to the United Nations.

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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.