Ukraine

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Situation in Ukraine: France’s position

Updated 8 March 2022

The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, 8 years after the conflict broke out in Crimea and Donbas in Ukraine in 2014.

The situation in 2022

France advises against travel to Ukraine until further notice. Follow the situation in the “Travellers Advice” (Conseils aux voyageurs) pages
You can keep up to date with the situation on the ground on the French Embassy’s website.

France stands united with Ukraine in this humanitarian emergency

The Russian military invasion of Ukraine has led to a serious humanitarian crisis. Millions of Ukrainians have left their homes to flee fighting and bombing since the beginning of the Russian offensive. Some have sought refuge elsewhere in the country and outside of Ukraine’s borders.

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.

France has released €100 million to finance the most urgent humanitarian supplies, such as medication, respirators, tent and blankets. A humanitarian airbridge has been set up through Poland to deliver these supplies to authorities in Ukraine or directly to the neighbouring countries taking in refugees.
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:

FACECO: a fund for local authorities
A support fund for businesses

Sanctions on Russia

On 27 February, leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Japan announced further restrictive economic measures against Russia. These measures have been imposed on the main Russian banks and institutions, as well as war leaders, including the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, with the aim of further isolating Russia from the international financial system and our economies.

View the Joint Statement on Further Restrictive Measures issued on 27 February 2022.

Read the measures adopted by the 27 Member States of the European Union on 25 February 2022

Temporary suspension of intercountry adoptions with Ukraine and Russia (11 March 2022)

Situations of crisis or armed conflict create fertile ground for violating the rights of children and in particular illegal practices in intercountry adoption. No intercountry adoption procedure may be initiated in such contexts, on account of the difficulty in determining whether the children, who may appear orphaned or definitively without parental care, are truly eligible for adoption.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has therefore made the decision to suspend intercountry adoptions with these two countries, for a period of three months, renewable.
For more information

Understanding the situation in Ukraine since 2014

Origin of the conflict

The conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation broke out during a political crisis in Ukraine in late November 2013. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to suspend the process leading to the signing of an Association Agreement with the European Union caused a “revolution of dignity” (Euromaidan).

In Crimea, masked Russian soldiers without insignia took control of all the strategic points in the region on 27 February 2014. On 16 March 2014, a “referendum” for independence and attachment to the Russian Federation was held. The international community did not recognize this annexation.

At the same time, a destabilization operation was launched in eastern Ukraine. In March 2014, armed groups without insignia under Russian control supported the demonstrators calling for the independence of these regions. On 11 May, the de facto entities of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and of the “Luhansk People’s Republic” declared their independence following a “referendum”. This vote, held outside of the framework established by Ukrainian legislation and marred by a number of irregularities, was considered illegal by Ukraine and was not recognized by the international community (including the Russian Federation).

France supported the European Union’s sanctions in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine.

The Minsk Agreements aiming to end the conflict

Diplomatic negotiations began in June 2014. The 6 June 1944 D-Day Commemorations provided an opportunity to start diplomatic discussions between the Ukrainian and Russian Presidents under the auspices of the President of the French Republic and German Chancellor in the Normandy Format or N4.

Negotiations were also launched in Minsk in the Trilateral Contact Group including representatives of Ukraine, Russia and mediated by the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as well as involving separatists (representatives of “certain regions of Luhank and Donetsk oblasts”) in four working groups.

On 5 September 2014, the Trilateral Contact Group parties signed the Minsk Protocol (in FR): 13 political and security measures aiming to end the conflict.

On 11 and 12 February 2015, the Normandy Format Summit of Heads of State and Government was held in Minsk. The Trilateral Contact Group parties signed the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements (at times mistakenly called “Minsk II”) (in FR).

This Package of Measures sets out the operational stages for implementing the Minsk Protocol. Its intention is to advance the security situation on the ground and the political process jointly without preconditions. Ultimately, its objective is for the separatist-held zones to be re-integrated under Ukrainian sovereignty with decentralized organization.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2202, which was adopted on 17 February 2015, endorsed this Package of Measures and called for its full implementation. This Package of Measures resulted in a significant drop in the number of victims, with three-quarters of the approximately 13,300 deaths caused by the conflict occurring before it was signed. But the crisis persists due to the parties’ lack of political will to deliver on their commitments. Tensions continue to fuel the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on a regular basis.

In Crimea, Ukraine has not restored its sovereignty and its territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. In August 2021, it launched an international platform of support for Crimea’s return under Ukrainian sovereignty.

In eastern Ukraine, repeated ceasefire violations directly threaten civilians and the humanitarian situation is still very critical, particularly for the most vulnerable people (elderly people).

The year 2019 was marked by the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy as President of Ukraine. He received more than 73% of votes and made resolving the conflict a priority of his term of office.

Since he was elected, several advances have been made on the ground:

• The ceasefire of 21 July led to an unprecedented decrease in violence;
• The disengagement was successful in three pilot zones (Stanytsia Luhanska, Petrivske, and Zolote);
• The bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska was rebuilt making it easier for civilians to travel around the contact line;
• In December 2019 then in April 2020, two exchanges of prisoners involved in the conflict led to the release of a total of 239 elderly people from both sides;
• Additional ceasefire consolidation measures were enacted on 27 July 2020.

Moreover, Russia and Ukraine proceeded to exchange 70 political prisoners (different from those held in relation to the conflict since 2014), including the film director, Oleh Sentsov, and the 24 Ukrainian sailors held since 25 November 2018 following a serious naval incident in the southern part of the Kerch Strait.

France’s position since 2014

France does not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea: the redrawing of international borders by force is a breach of international law and of the commitments made by the Russian Federation.

France hosted another Normandy Format Summit of Heads of State and Government on 9 December 2019, following on from the last Summit held in October 2016 in Berlin. At this Summit, a number of measures to improve the situation and to facilitate the implementation of the Minsk Agreements were made, including consolidating the ceasefire, making progress related to mine clearance, opening new crossing points, identifying new areas of disengagement, and exchanging prisoners taken during the conflict. The parties also reiterated their commitment to seeing that progress is made regarding all the legal aspects related to the political component of the Minsk Agreements.

See the common agreed conclusions from the Paris “Normandy” Summit

Paris “Normandy” Summit- common agreed conclusions (9.12.19) - (PDF, 140.3 ko)

Normandy Format political advisers have continued to hold discussions since, despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. On 26 January 2022, they met in Paris and issued a joint statement, the first since the Paris Summit, affirming their willingness to pursue work in the Normandy Format.

See Statement of the Advisers of the Heads of State and Government of the Normandy Format, 26 January 2022

France has had a policy of firmness, dialogue and solidarity with Ukraine to move towards a political settlement of the conflict and to help de-escalation since the increase in tensions with Russia on the Ukrainian border at the end of 2021. In light of this, the French President and the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs travelled to Kyiv on 8 February 2022, following a visit to Moscow on 7 February 2022. France reiterated that any new attack on Ukrainian sovereignty would lead to massive, costly sanctions for Russia.

Take a look back at the meeting between the President of the French Republic and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine.

Updated: February 2022