The Western push to incorporate Ukraine into NATO can only lead to an escalation of the conflict with Russia, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said, expressing doubt that the opposing parties in the stand-off have used all the tools at their disposal to achieve peace.
Speaking to TF1 TV on Wednesday, Sarkozy stressed that he believes Ukraine must remain “neutral” and refrain from joining the EU and NATO.
“This is not the solution. The solution is to discuss, for reasonable people to sit around the table, for us to give Ukraine security guarantees and for us to engage in a discussion to see at least if we can get out of it other than by annihilating either Ukraine or Russia,” he said.
Victory in the conflict can be achieved either by destroying an enemy, or finding a compromise, according to the French president, who called on the West to “stop talking about buying planes, ammunition, tanks.” He added that the international community must “find a solution that preserves the interests of Ukraine,” noting that “Russia won’t go anywhere, with or without [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”
My analysis is that the world and Europe are dancing on the edge of a volcano. It can get out of hand at any moment. There have been enough deaths, and it seems to me that the path of diplomacy and discussion has not been used to the end and that it is now appropriate to use it.
READ MORE: Kiev accuses Sarkozy of complicity in ‘genocide and war’
Last week, Sarkozy said that despite the current stand-off, Russia will always be Europe’s neighbor, suggesting that Ukraine “must remain” a bridge between the two.
He also stated that any compromise with Moscow would involve recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. The peninsula voted in a referendum to become part of the country in 2014 following a Western-backed coup in Kiev.
His comments, however, sparked outrage in Kiev, with Mikhail Podoliak, an aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, calling the proposal “criminal,” and accusing Sarkozy of complicity in organizing “genocide and war.”
Moscow has repeatedly said that it is open to talks with Kiev. Last year, however, Zelensky signed a decree banning any talks with the current Russian leadership after four former Ukrainian regions overwhelmingly voted in referendums last autumn to join Russia.