France, Germany say Russia’s publication of notes breaks diplomatic rules

Russia released a number of diplomatic letters to try to show that its stance on talks over eastern Ukraine has been misrepresented



Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the meeting of the Collegium of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. — AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the meeting of the Collegium of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. — AP

By Reuters

Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 9:41 PM

France and Germany accused Russia on Thursday of breaking diplomatic protocol after Moscow published their confidential correspondence over Ukraine, the latest sign of deteriorating ties between Moscow and the West.

On Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry released a number of diplomatic letters it exchanged with Germany and France to try to show that its stance on talks over eastern Ukraine has been misrepresented.

“We consider this approach to be contrary to diplomatic rules and customs,” French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters in a daily online briefing.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson later issued a similar statement.

The publication of the diplomatic correspondence came after Paris accused Russia of refusing to accept a ministerial meeting with France, Ukraine and Germany to discuss the pro-Russian separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine and denied that it had failed to respond to proposals made by Moscow.

In a rare response, Russia published 28 pages of diplomatic documents, showing it had said in advance that foreign minister Sergei Lavrov could not take part in the proposed November 11 meeting.

However, the documents published also showed serious differences between Russia, France and Germany.

Russia attached a draft statement on the “internal Ukrainian conflict” that Russia proposed to publish after the possible Normandy format meeting.

The Normandy format brings together Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France to help end the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kyiv’s forces and pro-Russian separatists.

On November 4, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a joint letter to Lavrov that Moscow’s draft had assessments that Germany and France did not share, such as the portrayal of an “internal Ukrainian conflict” among others.

Two European diplomats said the publication by Moscow appeared to be an attempt to sow confusion, but that it had backfired because it proved that Moscow was trying to block the process by demanding numerous preconditions that would make any hope of holding a meeting impossible.

Legendre called on Russia to return to the negotiating table and continue discussions, but in the “approved formats and according to agreed principles”.


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