France condemns ‘paranoid’ Putin address as Macron demands sanctions against Russia

France on Monday described as paranoid an address to the nation by President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, accusing the Russian leader of breaking promises made to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. The French president has called for targeted European sanctions.

France condemns 'paranoid' Putin address as Macron demands sanctions against Russia
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (off frame) in Moscow, early on February 8, 2022. (Photo by Sergei GUNEYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP)

Putin’s speech, in which he recognised as independent two Ukrainian separatist regions, mixed “rigid and paranoid” ideas”, a French presidential official said, saying the Russian leader had “not respected promises made” to Macron.

The official, who asked not to named, said further Russian “military actions” were not to be ruled out and added the EU was preparing a list of Russian entities and individuals to sanction in a “proportionate” response.

Earlier Macron  condemned the Kremlin’s move to recognise two eastern Ukrainian separatist regions as independent, urging the European Union to agree new sanctions against Moscow.

“The president condemns the decision…. He is demanding an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council as well as the adoption of targeted European sanctions,” the French presidency said in a statement.

“This is clearly a unilateral violation of Russia’s international commitments and a breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” it added.

The statement was issued after Macron chaired a meeting of France’s defence and security council to assess the situation in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier recognised the independence of the two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, defying warnings from the West this could trigger sweeping sanctions.

Macron had engaged in frenetic diplomacy on Sunday in a bid to broker a summit between Putin and US President Joe Biden to ease the soaring tensions over Ukraine which have raised fears of a Russian invasion of its neighbour.

But the idea so far has only met with a lukewarm response from the Kremlin.

There was no mention of continued diplomatic contacts in the Elysee statement.

French officials have previously said that the situation in eastern Ukraine is dangerous but every chance must be used to prevent war.

Earlier Monday, Macron again spoke with Putin as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the presidency said earlier.

He also spoke twice with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and conferred with European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission head Ursula Von der Leyen.

Earlier Monday, France had announced that Russia’s foreign minister SergeiLavrov would meet his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris on Friday.

Member comments

  1. The separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk want to be independent and retain close links with Russia. The way out of war is to acknowledge this reality, something similar was done in Kosovo much to the displeasure of the Serbs and Belgrade.

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France’s TotalEnergies exits Russian gas firm’s board

TotalEnergies is withdrawing from the board of Russian gas giant Novatek in the wake of sanctions against Moscow

France's TotalEnergies exits Russian gas firm's board

French energy group TotalEnergies is withdrawing from the board of Russian gas giant Novatek and taking a $3.7billion hit in the wake of sanctions against Moscow.

TotalEnergies said in a statement that the two directors have had to abstain from voting in board meetings, “in particular on financial matters”, due to the European sanctions.

“They are therefore no longer in a position to fully carry out their duties on the board which might become an issue for the governance of this company,” the French firm said.

“Under these circumstances, the Board of Directors of TotalEnergies has decided to withdraw the representatives of the Company from the board of PAO Novatek with immediate effect,” it said.

TotalEnergies added that it will no longer account for its 19.4 percent stake in Novatek, leading to a $3.7 billion write-down in its fourth quarter accounts.

The French company said it cannot sell its stake in the Russian firm as, “it is forbidden for TotalEnergies to sell any asset to one of Novatek’s main shareholders who is under sanction”.