French media about situation in Ukraine
An overview of the most recent articles which have been published in the French media concerning Ukraine.
“Despite the crisis in Ukraine, France will deliverwarships to Russia” Le Monde
After US Subsecretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, expressed her criticisms in the House of Representatives about the French selling of warships on May 8th, France reaffirmed its will to proceed with the exportations. According to a French diplomat quoted in the article, the US can “flex their muscles” and call for more sanctions because they are not dependent on Russia with whom they have few trade exchanges and no energy dependence. President Hollande was passably annoyed when asked about the subject last Saturday whilst in Germany: “This contract was signed in 2011, it will continue and conclude next October. For the time being, it is a valid contract.” The entourage of President Hollande reaffirmed this view stating that the contract cannot be cancelled due to the high price France would have to pay.
While on a tour in the Caucasus, President Hollande talked about the 3rd wave of possible sanctions against Russia (still not contemplating the cancellation of the warships) that could be applied if the May 25th elections could not go ahead due to “provocations” or “instrusions”.
Correspondent of Le Monde, Piotr Smolar,answered several questions in a chat and there are some insightful inputs. As did the ODF, he highlighted the lack of “loyalty and professionalism of the police forces, as illustrated in Odessa where a few hundred Pro Russian activists freed without any difficulty, 67 of their comrades who were detained in the police station”.
He also explains how the silent majority in the East can change quickly according to the events and the widespread propagandain the media: the drama of Odessa was presented by Russian TV as the pure and simple immolation of dozens of harmless citizens by “fascists” sent by Kiev. Such catastrophes with a powerful symbolic force can move consciousness and opinions and force the silent majority in the East to determine its position.
The presidential elections will not resolve the legitimacy problem of the government : there is a dire need for the anticipated legislative elections. He goes on: “the lack of interest of Ukrainian citizens in the presidential elections of May 25th is not only linked to the violence and the insecurity. It is also due to the permanence of the politicians and the preservation of old practices. The aspirations of the revolutionaries of Maidan for the replacement of politicians and “lustration” have already been thwarted”.
Regarding the West’s sanctions, he insists on the division of Europe: Eastern countries which have already experienced Russian invasion are more active than Germany, dependent on Russian gas.The UK which is completely awashwith Russian money and even France which has developed a close relationship with Russia (especially in the defence sector: Eastern countries are trying for instance, to convince Paris to give up the shipping of a Mistral Projection and Commandment Ship or Landing Helicopter Dock to Russia).
On the specific issue of the warships assembled in France, the MOFA first mentioned in March their possible cancellation but the Defence Minister quickly announced that France will take its decision in October when the inter-ministerial commission for the study of exportation of war materials will have to approve this exportation. It should be a formality and a cancellation could only occur should an embargo beimposed. Indeed, it would be too costly to cancel it in terms of economics (1 bn €) and employment (1 000 jobs were created in France). French Representative to the UN, Gérard Araud, said that “for the moment, Mistral ships are not part of the sanctions”. Despite the tensions in Ukraine, 400 Russian sailors will arrive in France in June for 6 months’ special training in the manipulation of these warships. This March article of Le Monde sums up the situation well.
Several articles about the events in Odessa criticise the lack of reaction in the Western countries and the fact that the death of Pro Russians are not clearly stated and do not provoke the same indignation that the deaths of Maidan victims caused back in February. In a column, «The unnamed of Odessa», journalist, Daniel Schneidermann (specialist of media studies) analyses how the French did not comprehensively cover the Odessa events and simply blamed the Pro Russians for the violence. He also states how the Ukrainian media are now playing the role of belligerent media by turning people against each other and creating divisions in the population.
These articles relate to the investigation led by German TV in Maidan which showed that shots also came from buildings held by Maidan protesters (Hotel Ukrainia): they question the version defended by the General Prosecutor, Oleg Makhnitski, and criticise his lack of an impartial approach. Lawyers of the victims of Maidan say they do not have access to ballistics expertise or reports of forensic experts and some say there is no serious investigation going on.