At the end of more than three hours of discussions in Pau, with French people of different social strata and generations, and just before having again a phone call with the Russian President, the President of the French Republic provided an update on the situation in Ukraine. He said the following:
“The war has returned to Europe and it is obviously causing fear and anxiety for many French women and men. It is extremely tragic and serious, and there is a profound humanitarian crisis in Ukraine today.
What is France’s role in this context?
First of all, we must stress that it is our continent that is affected, but also our values of democracy. An authoritarian power, which until then remained within the rules of the common life of nations and was moreover a power endowed with nuclear weapons, behaved in a predictable manner. This behavior has changed.
So our role is first and foremost to support Ukraine. We are providing a number of humanitarian aid, as well as equipment, weapons, to be on the side of the Ukrainian people. Then to welcome refugees, many of whom are women and children, with youth, adolescents and adults left to fight.
This is the greatest humanitarian challenge, this is the greatest human situation we have faced since the Second World War. There are over 3 million Ukrainians who have already left their country and there will be more. And we will have our share to take and must welcome them in good conditions, both to protect them, to care for and educate them and to enable them to find a job. I think that we will be able to do that and we will all be committed to live up to our values, our responsibility and our duty.
Besides that, we are sanctioning Russia and we will continue to do so to stop this war and the difficulty, I measure it when we see the images, is that we want to do everything by these sanctions, by the mobilization of a united Europe, our work with the Americans, our diplomatic work with the United Nations, to stop this conflict without being belligerent ourselves.
We do not want to participate in this war, we cannot enter this war, given the escalation that it could be. That is why I continue to speak to President Putin, to convince him to return to a negotiation and stop this attack. I’m not naive, but I think that by having the leverage, first through the resistance of the Ukrainians, by having on one side the leverage of sanctions and the pressure it exerts, and then by having the leverage of diplomatic pressure, by going down the path of demanding dialogue, There is a path that is very tenuous.
It is a ridge path, as in our mountains, but this ridge path is there and we must do everything to find it. I’m sure it exists. That is what I am trying to do, so that at some point the conflict will end and we can rebuild peace. Because in any case there will be a Day after and there will be another Europe, but we will not change its geography and history. And Russia will always be that immense neighbour whose people are a great people with a history. However, the Ukrainian people are a brother people, which makes us appreciate the profound drama of civilization that is taking place in this part of our continent.
So we must do everything to stop the war and already think about peace tomorrow. Saying that, I obviously share your sadness and emotion when we see the humanitarian tragedy that Ukraine is experiencing today. We see the courage and the inexcusable situation that Ukrainians have experienced in recent days in Mariupol and before in other cities. You can count on my energy facing this.”