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

PARIS, November 18 (Reuters) – France and Germany on Thursday accused Russia of violating the diplomatic protocol after Moscow published their confidential correspondence about Ukraine, the latest sign of deteriorating relations between Moscow and the West.

On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a series of diplomatic letters, it exchanged with Germany and France to try to show that its position on negotiations on 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.

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France and Germany said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had refused to hold a meeting in so-called Normandy format with his French, German and Ukrainian counterparts, but Russia said Lavrov was simply unavailable for a specific meeting.

The outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel downplayed the importance of Russia’s action, but told a news conference that this did not change the fact that no meeting had taken place, something she regretted.

“The publication of letters is not so surprising. I often read my own letters in the newspapers. We certainly have nothing to hide,” she told a news conference about another case.

But she added that she had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold another round of negotiations before leaving office. That he had not done so was a shame, she said, “since meetings have their own dynamics,” and made it possible to make progress even in seemingly difficult situations.

Paris has previously accused Russia of refusing to accept a ministerial meeting with France, Ukraine and Germany to discuss the pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine and denied that it had not responded to proposals from Moscow.

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

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

Russia attached a draft declaration on the “internal Ukrainian conflict”, which Russia proposed to publish after the possible meeting in Normandy.

The Normandy-style negotiations aim to help end the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kiev 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 depiction of an “internal Ukrainian conflict.” among other.

Two European diplomats said that Moscow’s publication 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 assumptions that would give any hope of hold a meeting impossible.

Legends called on Russia to return to the negotiating table and continue the talks, but in the “approved formats and in accordance with agreed principles.”

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Reporting by John Irish in Paris Further reporting by Andrea Rinke and Thomas Escritt in Berlin Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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