The thorny “de-escalation” with Russia at the heart of exchanges between Macron, Merkel and Zelensky

The 2 + 1 meeting finally resulted in a curious balance at 4. On the sidelines of the working lunch organized at the Elysee Palace, Friday April 16, between the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, followed of a joint videoconference session with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vladimir Poutine, absent, invited himself to the discussion table.

While the first three leaders debated the already very tense situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Kremlin added a new subject of tension: the suspension, for six months, of navigation on the outskirts of Crimea, the annexed Ukrainian peninsula. by Russia in 2014.

Clashes multiply in the Donbass

“From April 24 at 9 p.m. until October 31 at 9 p.m., passage through the territorial waters of the Russian Federation for military ships and other state buildings will be suspended.”, announced the Russian Ministry of Defense, quoted by the Ria-Novosti agency. Three areas are concerned: the western tip of Crimea, another to the south, in the Sevastopol region, and a third in the Kerch Strait, which leads to the Sea of ​​Azov, essential for maritime transport for Ukrainian cities such as Mariupol.

In Paris, Volodmyr Zelensky came to seek the support of the main mediators, France and Germany, sponsors of the Minsk agreements signed in 2015, then relaunched in the “Normandy format” which associates the two countries, Ukraine and Russia. These agreements, supposed to provide a peaceful solution to the conflict that has left nearly 14,000 dead and 1.5 million displaced in eastern Ukraine, a region dominated by pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow, are today deadlocked. Clashes between Kiev and the insurgents are increasing. And Russia, which has distributed thousands of Russian passports to residents of Donbass, has deployed tens of thousands of troops along its border with Ukraine as part “Exercises”.

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“The number of violations registered in the last two weeks has reached its highest level since the beginning of the year and was three times higher” than the previous fortnight, said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in a statement released Wednesday evening. The mission deployed in the conflict zone also deplores “A significant increase in restrictions and obstacles to his freedom of movement” noting that nine out of ten flights of its long-range drones were “Affected by interference”.

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