PARIS (AFP) -French President Francois Hollande said Thursday he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would visit Kiev and Moscow in a fresh push for peace in Ukraine, but warned diplomacy “cannot go on indefinitely”.
Hollande said that after the repeated failure of diplomatic efforts to stem fighting between Kiev and separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, he and Merkel had come up with a new initiative to propose to warring parties.
“We will propose a new solution to the conflict based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We will discuss it with President (Petro) Poroshenko today and on Friday in Moscow with the Russian president,” Hollande said.
While Ukraine is hoping the United States will step in and provide its troops with weapons to better defend themselves against pro-Russian separatists, France and Germany are still betting on peace talks.
“We always think war is for others, far away, not for our generation.
“But just a few hours flight away, civilians are dying every day, heavy weapons are being used, hospitals are targeted and trenches dug. In a few months we have gone… from conflict to war,” said Hollande.
He said one option swirling in the West was “to arm the protagonists because, some are doing it, Russia for the separatists, so let’s do it for the Ukrainians to allow them to defend themselves”.
He said France was not entering this debate.
“Then there is another option, it is not certain it will succeed but if we don’t try we will never know.
“That is the option of diplomacy, negotiation (but) that cannot go on indefinitely.”