French President François Hollande made an unscheduled stop in Moscow on Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis with Vladimir Putin, telling the Russian leader that Moscow and the West must overcome their divisions and work together.
"I think we must get rid of the walls that separate us," Hollande said in Moscow. "We must find solutions together."
Putin struck a moderate tone in his remarks on Ukraine. “I very much hope that in the near future we will have a final cease-fire agreement” in east Ukraine, Putin said in televised remarks. Without a full truce, he said, “it is difficult to picture Ukraine as a territorially integral country”, adding that Russia “supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
Warning on Friday that the eight-month-long Ukraine crisis – which has sparked the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War – posed “serious threats to the economy of the entire region”, Hollande promised to relaunch joint efforts aimed at "inititating a de-escalation”.
The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Russia over a crisis that has seen Moscow annex Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and some 4,300 people killed as a result of fighting between Kiev government troops and pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Because of the tensions, France has indefinitely delayed the delivery of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers that it was building for Russia in a €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) contract. The first of the two assault ships was scheduled to be delivered in November but was delayed due to concerns over Russia's incursions into Ukraine.
Paris faces hefty fines if it breaches the contract it signed with Russia in 2011, but risks the wrath of its allies around the world if it delivers the hot-button technology to Moscow with the Ukraine crisis still raging.
With its economy still flatlining, France could find itself left with two massive warships equipped with Russian technology that it cannot sell to another client and no money to show for it.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-12-06