Despite a spate of reports in recent weeks that Russian Armed Forces could stream into neighboring Ukraine, France’s foreign minister has stated that Paris sees no sign that Moscow is preparing to launch a full-scale attack against Ukraine.
Speaking as part of an appearance on France 2 Television channel on Wednesday, Jean-Yves Le Drian gave an update on the current tensions in Eastern Europe.
“The situation is very serious – tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are near the Ukrainian border, military maneuvers involving Russian and Belarusian troops are expected near Ukraine’s borders,” he said. “There are all the conditions for an incursion.”
However, according to the official, there is currently no information about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to act. He pointed out that the priority at this moment should be reducing tensions in the region.
Le Drian said the last meeting of representatives from the Normandy format, which brings together negotiators from Kiev, Moscow, Berlin, and Paris in an effort to resolve the conflict in Donbass, showed “modest progress,” and expressed optimism at potential further success.
“We can reach an agreement on Ukraine… Only political will is needed to avoid the worst,” he emphasized.
Ukrainian and Western officials have repeatedly raised concerns of an imminent invasion, citing reports that Moscow was putting its forces near the demarcation line. Russia stands accused of amassing an estimated 100,000 troops to the shared frontier.
In late January, Kiev’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba sought to downplay fears of a looming offensive, arguing that “at the moment, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border. They also lack some important military indicators and systems to conduct such a large full-scale offensive.”
“We can say 100 times a day invasion is imminent, but this doesn’t change the situation on the ground,” he remarked.
There have been a number of reports about a purported Russian invasion of Ukraine in English-language outlets in recent weeks, but Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov dismissed them as “groundless” and “hysteria.”