Despite Trump’s pressure, France defends dialogue, not confrontation with Russia

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PARIS – French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized on Wednesday the need for an open but firm dialogue with Russia to pursue the interests of France.

“We always aspire and we should always aspire to have an open channel of dialogue with Russia. We pursue a policy of dialogue and firmness, remembering that only the implementation of the Minsk agreements will be a condition for a change of attitude,” said Le Drian in speaking at a conference entitled “The Future of Europe amid Sino-American Competition,” held at the Sorbonne University.

“We must use every possibility of dialogue with Russia, not in a spirit of confrontation, but without appeasing certain  threat practices in order to pursue our interests,” he added.

France and Russia, together with Ukraine and Germany, are members of the so-called Normandy Quartet dealing with discussions about the Ukrainian crises.

It was with this bloc who was responsible for negotiations in the Belarusian capital of Minsk that the parties to the conflict – the central Ukrainian government and the eastern independent republics – signed the ceasefire agreement in 2015. However, sporadic fighting continues with both sides accusing each other of breaches of the cease-fire.

Meanwhile, France, along with other European Union member states, accused Russia of supporting the militia in eastern Ukraine and thus be responsible for continuing military action.

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Russia has repeatedly denied interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

Although France has sanctions against Russia, it has continued to not serve all of Washington’s interests and often goes against Trump’s Russia policy.

German and French diplomats opposed imposing a new round of sanctions on Russia after a sea clash with Ukraine in November last year, and on the contrary, want to improve trust between nations, according to the German daily Die Welt.

Top-level diplomats from France and Germany prefer to counter the renewed Russian-Ukrainian tensions with more “confidence-building measures,” the daily said back in November.

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