| 27 May 2024, Monday |

France, Germany and Ukraine seek fresh peace talks with Russia

On Wednesday, the leaders of France, Germany, and Ukraine attempted to restart talks with Russia while maintaining pressure on Moscow to dissuade what the West believes are preparations for a fresh invasion on Ukrainian territory.

According to Macron’s office, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met on the margins of an EU conference in Brussels to discuss options to relaunch discussions under the “Normandy framework,” which also includes Russia.

“The three leaders reiterated their commitment to this framework of discussions in order to find a long-term solution to the crisis while preserving Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” his office noted.

Ukraine is currently the main flashpoint between Russia and the West. The United States says Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, possibly in preparation for an invasion. Moscow says its actions are purely defensive.

“Any violation of territorial integrity will have a high price and we will speak with one voice here with our European partners and our transatlantic allies,” Scholz said in Berlin before leaving for his first summit in Brussels as chancellor, adding he still sought a “constructive dialogue” with Russia.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Twitter urged the West and Ukraine to implement the peace deals of 2014 and 2015 that include prisoner exchanges, aid and the withdrawal of weapons.

Relations between Moscow and Berlin reached a new low on Wednesday when a German court found that Russia ordered the killing of a former Chechen militant in a Berlin park, and sentenced the agent who carried out the 2019 act of “state terrorism” to life imprisonment.

Germany summoned the Russian ambassador after the ruling, telling him that two of his embassy’s diplomatic staff would be expelled, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Zelenskiy said on Twitter he was hoping for France’s support in countering Russia’s “hybrid aggression” in Europe as Paris assumes the rotating EU presidency for six months in January.

He also invited Scholz to Ukraine and wished to deepen cooperation with Berlin in energy, security and defense – a veiled swipe at differences between the countries over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as well as weapons deliveries to Ukraine.


After the meeting, Ukraine joined Georgia and Moldova at the summit to lobby the EU to let them begin negotiations to join the bloc. But for now they will only win assurances of support against any possible Russian aggression.

The one-day ‘Eastern Partnership’ summit in Brussels highlights the limited success of the EU’s approach to the six ex-Soviet republics it embraces, all of them in what Russia considers its backyard where it has security interests.

Of the six, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are all locked in territorial disputes with Moscow. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are attending the summit but are not seeking EU membership. Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko, hit by Western sanctions over his human rights record, stayed away.

“Our goal is full membership in the European Union,” Zelenskiy said after meeting EU summit chair Charles Michel.

Excerpts of a draft final summit statement, seen by Reuters and due to be published later on Wednesday, show that the EU will “acknowledge the European aspirations and the European choice” of the five countries concerned.

  • Reuters