France denounced Russia’s unilateral violation of international commitments and called for “targeted European sanctions” following its controversial recognition of the independence of separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, the French presidency said on Monday. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s televised address announcing the move showed his “ideological drift” combining “rigidity and paranoia,” said an Elysee Palace statement.

Putin “made a very clear choice to break his commitments” and “did not respect the word given” to French President Emmanuel Macron, BFMTV news reported.

The decision is a personal setback for Macron, who in recent weeks worked to lead the mediation between Moscow and Kyiv.

Late Monday, after holding an Emergency Defense and National Security Council meeting and speaking on the phone with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Macron called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting and European sanctions on Russia.

“By recognizing the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, Russia is violating its commitments and undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Macron said on Twitter.  

Meetings in doubt

On Sunday, Macron proposed a summit between Putin and Biden, with Russia promising not to invade Ukraine. However, under the changed dynamics after Putin’s speech, it is unclear whether a series of high-level political and diplomatic meetings will take place.

These include a US-Russia summit, a trilateral contact group meeting with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visits to Geneva and Paris.​​​​​​​

At the UN, the French mission said the recognition of the separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states constituted a “new attack on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” as well as a violation of Russia’s commitments made under the 2014 Minsk agreement, which was endorsed by the UN Security Council.

In a marathon diplomatic initiative over the last several weeks, Macron made several phone calls to Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Biden, and European allies, besides traveling to Moscow and Kyiv in a bid to de-escalate the crisis through diplomatic negotiations.

He emphasized that there was no alternative other than implementing the peace plan detailed in the Minsk protocols.

Before Putin’s announcement, the French presidency declared that Macron had secured a breakthrough in the form of “commitment to a cease-fire on the line of contact” between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels in the Donbas region.

Putin’s Monday order sending Russian troops into the separatist regions to “maintain peace” effectively violates that cease-fire.

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