By Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk
KYIV – French President Emmanuel Macron did not try to deny Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations and visited Kyiv this week offering opinions and not proposals, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a briefing on Wednesday.
Kuleba said Ukraine would not accept any ultimatums to defuse tensions with Russia.
Macron visited Kyiv after holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin has demanded a block on Ukraine joining the NATO alliance, and Ukraine is wary of any unpalatable compromises being forced on it.
“There was no betrayal,” Kuleba said.
He said that during Macron’s visit, the issue of denying Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations was not raised.
Ukraine has repeatedly voiced a desire to join NATO and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says the Ukrainian army is better prepared than the armies of some countries of the alliance.
“The option is that someone will come and begin to impose something on us, so there will be no such conversation in principle. And yesterday there was a discussion of ideas, it was not a discussion of specific proposals,” Kuleba said.
Tensions between Moscow and the West have intensified amid a Russian troop buildup near its border with Ukraine, while western leaders have threatened to slap fresh sanctions on Moscow if it invades.
Macron said after his talks in Kyiv that Putin and Zelenskiy had told him they were committed to the principles of a 2014 peace agreement. Macron added that the deal, known as the Minsk accords, offered a path to resolving their disputes.
Kuleba said that Ukrainian authorities will not abandon their red lines and, despite their readiness for negotiations, would not agree to the implementation of the Minsk peace agreements as interpreted by Russia.
He said Kyiv would not hold direct negotiations with Russian-backed separatists and the main task at peace negotiations in Berlin on Thursday is the resumption of talks in the framework of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE European security body.
Last month’s talks in Paris revived the four-way “Normandy format” between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany and were seen as a step towards defusing broader tensions in a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. The next round is set for Feb 10 in Berlin.
Kuleba said earlier on Wednesday that there was still a chance of resolving the West’s standoff with Russia through diplomacy but that there are already grounds to impose sanctions on Moscow.