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War in Ukraine: France’s position

On 24 February 2022, 8 years after the illegal annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014, the Russian Federation made the deliberate, unjustifiable choice to start a war against Ukraine. From the very first day of the conflict, France and its European Union partners chose to stand firmly alongside Ukraine and its people.

France and all its partners made the determined choice to help Ukraine

By waging a war against a sovereign country, Russia deliberately violated the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. Supporting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine does not simply mean helping a free people. It also means defending international law and the security of the European continent. That is why, from the very first day of the war, France and its partners have unwaveringly supported Ukraine and its people.

Determined political and diplomatic action to support Ukraine

On 23 and 24 June 2022, the Heads of State and Government meeting in the European Council decided to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova for EU membership, and recognized the European perspective of Georgia.
That was a historic step, made possible in part by the visit to Kyiv by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the German Federal Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the Italian President of the Council of Ministers, Mario Draghi, and the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis. France and its European partners will continue working to accompany Ukraine on its European path.

On 30 September 2022, France condemned President Putin’s announcement of the illegal annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions by the Russian Federation in the strongest terms.

See the statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs spokesperson

Massive sanctions to heighten pressure on Russia

The 27 EU Member States have adopted several packages of sanctions against Russia since February 2022. The aim of these measures is to isolate Russia from the international financial system and put pressure on those who politically and economically support the Russian regime. They are already having a major and growing impact on the Russian economy that will undermine the country’s continued war effort.

France stands united with Ukraine in this humanitarian and economic emergency

Responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a serious humanitarian crisis. Millions of Ukrainians have had to leave their homes to flee fighting and bombing since the beginning of the Russian offensive. Some have managed to find refuge elsewhere in Ukraine, while others have fled the country.

The Crisis and Support Centre (CDCS) of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is working to support victims and refugees in this humanitarian emergency, in both Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

To address the most urgent needs, France has released €100 million in order to finance and deliver essential humanitarian equipment, healthcare equipment, agricultural support and civil protection vehicles.

The CDCS has coordinated around 35 solidarity missions, the first through an air bridge via Poland, delivering more than 1,400 tons of aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries and demonstrating France’s exceptional commitment to supporting the Ukrainian people. In order to rally all goodwill efforts and quickly and effectively raise financial contributions to France’s humanitarian operations, two funds have been set up:

“A Ship for Ukraine” solidarity operation

Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, visited Marseille on 28 September 2022 to attend the launch of the “A ship for Ukraine” operation.

It was France’s largest humanitarian assistance operation in support of Ukraine since the start of Russia’s war of aggression. More than 1,000 tons of humanitarian freight was shipped to Ukraine, addressing the priorities expressed by the Ukrainian authorities. It notably included aid for civil security, medical supplies, food aid and emergency rehabilitation equipment.

This operation demonstrated France’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people and that of its local government bodies, civil society and businesses.

Dedicated humanitarian assistance for Ukrainian women and children

When it comes to health, sexual and reproductive rights, psychosocial support, information, education, housing, France is acting to help Ukrainian women in several areas.

The CDCS is financing many programmes put in place by NGOs to help Ukrainian women. The aim is to meet the needs of women who have fled with or without children over Ukraine’s borders, to neighbouring countries or to France.
Some 58% of the humanitarian projects financed are aimed wholly or partly at helping Ukrainian women.

France is also financially supporting UN humanitarian agencies, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that are active in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence.

For example, 4,051 women and children had benefited from prevention services and programmes to fight gender-based violence offered by UNICEF in Ukraine as of 12 May 2022.

Some 90% of Ukrainian refugees in France and the wider EU are women and children. France is therefore operating specific initiatives for access to fundamental rights like health services, as well as transport, accommodation and learning the French language.

Launch of reconstruction support

As Russia’s aggression against Ukraine continues, it is important to launch coordination between partners and set down the broad principles that must serve as guidelines for the country’s crucial reconstruction. That was the aim of the Lugano conference that met in Switzerland on 4 and 5 July 2022.

The efforts of France and its local government bodies will focus considerably on the Chernihiv region, which has long-standing ties with France and was hit hard by Russian bombardment during the first weeks of the war.

France is already taking concrete steps to support the country’s reconstruction. During her visit to Ukraine on 27 September 2022, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, inaugurated a project in the city of Hostomel, supported by the French company Neo-Eco and funded by France, for the recycling of materials in order to speed up reconstruction efforts for the people of Ukraine.

France’s commitment to safeguarding Ukraine’s cultural heritage

According to UNESCO, more than 200 cultural sites have been destroyed or damaged since the beginning of the Russian aggression, which shows a deliberate intention to target Ukrainian cultural heritage. This includes museums, religious buildings, historic buildings, monuments and libraries – sites that are an integral part of Ukrainian culture.

That is why France, which is strongly committed to protecting heritage in conflict areas, is working alongside all of its European and international partners to safeguard Ukrainian heritage. Since the beginning of the war, France and its partners have been working to ensure specific measures are put in place in liaison with international organizations such as UNESCO, ICOM and the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH Foundation). The ALIPH Foundation, of which France is a founding member, raised almost €3 million, including a financial commitment from the European Commission of €2 million, destined for projects protecting Ukrainian heritage, including staff training in preventive protection and the delivery of equipment to protect collections. A total of four convoys and 60 tons of equipment were sent to Ukraine in recent months and 150 collections have been protected. Lastly, the Ministry of Culture and its major public institutions such as the Louvre Museum and the National Library of France have hosted Ukrainian curators and restorers since the beginning of the war and are working with them on structural actions (such as protecting, restoring and digitizing) to protect the collections kept in Ukrainian museums and cultural institutions and training their staff in restoring damaged heritage items.

France is taking action to fight impunity

Mass atrocities have been discovered in Ukrainian territory in areas previously occupied by Russian forces, in the city of Bucha in particular.

France is determined to work with Ukrainians, international partners and international courts to ensure these acts, which may constitute war crimes, do not go unpunished. The French Ministry of the Interior has sent a technical team to support Ukrainian authorities with their expertise in identification and evidence gathering. In agreement with the Ukrainian authorities, the team will also be able to contribute to the International Criminal Court’s investigation. France has made an additional contribution of €500,000 to the ICC and seconded 2 judges and 10 investigators to it. Lastly, on 14 July 2022, the Ministry’s CDCS provided the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office with a mobile laboratory for fast DNA analysis in order to support victim identification and collection of evidence.

A ministerial meeting of the United Nations Security Council was organized by France during its Presidency to discuss the fight against impunity.

Managing the consequences of the war for global food security

Russia’s war against Ukraine has had dramatic consequences for global food security. By blocking Ukrainian grain exports, Russia has destabilized global agricultural markets and brought about a risk of a food crisis in many vulnerable countries, affecting prices, production and access to and supply of grains, particularly wheat.

To guarantee food access for all, the French President announced the launch of the international Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative for food security in the most vulnerable countries alongside our European Union, G7 and African Union partners.

A podcast on Russia’s war in Ukraine

From the causes to the outbreak of the war to the mechanics of interministerial coordination in response, the first series of “Sources Diplomatiques” podcasts (in French) is an opportunity to look back at the outbreak of the Russian invasion and the response by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in France and abroad.

Listen to “Sources Diplomatiques” podcast series

Updated: August 2022