Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Erdogan to rid Turkish institutions of ‘separatist cancer’ after coup attempt

Read more

ENCORE!

The best of summer music festivals in France

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Going for gold: French athletes train for Rio Olympics

Read more

#TECH 24

Digital beauty

Read more

FOCUS

Women doctors in Pakistan challenge the status quo

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Trump hopes to reset America's trade relations

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Donald Trump's speech was just another scam'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cazeneuve at the heart of Nice security controversy

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

South Africa: Prosecutors seek longer sentence for Oscar Pistorius

Read more

Europe

Ukraine deal 'a last chance’ to avoid war, Hollande says

© Sergei Supinski, AFP | German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande in Kiev on February 5, 2015

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-02-07

A day after French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented a new peace plan to Russia's Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Hollande on Saturday called the proposal "one of the last chances" to avoid war in east Ukraine.

“I think this is one of the last chances, that’s why we took this initiative,” Hollande said, speaking of talks held in conjunction with Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking on France 2 television on Saturday, Hollande said the plan under negotiation would see a 50- to 70-kilometre (31- to 44-mile) demilitarised zone established.

He also called for "rather strong" autonomy in parts of east Ukraine.

The negotiators’ aim is to draw up a possible joint document on implementing the much-violated September peace plan concluded in Minsk, Belarus. That agreement also featured a demilitarised zone, though the battle lines have since changed, and the government in Kiev has offered a measure of autonomy to the separatists.

“If we don’t manage to find not just a compromise but a lasting peace agreement, we know perfectly well what the scenario will be. It has a name, it’s called war,” Hollande told reporters in the city of Tulle in central France.

Merkel, who on Saturday participated in the high-profile Munich Security Conference, said that although the peace plan is worth trying, “it is uncertain if it will succeed” in ending the fighting that has so far killed more than 5,000 people.

Merkel, who in Munich held three-way talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and US Vice President Joe Biden and will fly to Washington on Sunday to meet US President Barack Obama, also questioned the logic of sending arms to fight separatists who are believed to have unlimited supplies of weapons from their Russian backers.

“I understand the debate but I believe that more weapons will not lead to the progress Ukraine needs. I really doubt that,” the conservative German leader said. “There is already a large number of weapons in the region and I don’t see that this has made a military solution more likely.”

Emerging rift

The debate over how to confront the Moscow-backed rebels has led to an emerging rift between the US and Europe, with Obama facing increasing pressure from some members of Congress to provide Kiev with lethal weapons.

NATO’s top military commander, US Air Force general Philip Breedlove, gave the strongest signals yet in Munich that he now wants the Western allies to consider sending weapons to Ukraine.

“I don’t think we should preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option,” Breedlove told reporters, adding that he was referring to weapons or capabilities and that there was “no conversation about boots on the ground”.

In Kiev on Saturday, a Ukrainian military spokesman said separatists had stepped up shelling of government forces on all front lines and appeared to be massing for new offensives on the key railway town of Debaltseve and the coastal city of Mariupol.

Merkel and Hollande flew home from Moscow in the dead of night after five hours of talks with Putin on Friday that yielded little beyond a promise to keep talking.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2015-02-07

  • UKRAINE

    Diplomacy or arms? West divided over Ukraine

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Hollande and Merkel head to Kiev, Moscow with peace plan

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    US 'looking at options' to arm Ukraine against separatists

    Read more

COMMENT(S)