France’s Sarkozy blasted for call to copromise with Russia

PARIS  -  France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy has stirred outrage in Kyiv and Par­is by suggesting Russia’s in­vasion of Ukraine could be ended with new referen­dums in occupied territo­ries. “The Ukrainians... will want to reconquer what has been unjustly taken from them,” Sarkozy told conserva­tive newspaper Le Figaro on Wednesday.

“But if they can’t manage it completely, the choice will be between a frozen con­flict... or taking the high road out with referendums strict­ly overseen by the interna­tional community.” Speaking particularly about the Crime­an peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, the former French leader said that “any return to the way things were before is an illusion.

“An incontestable referen­dum... will be needed to solid­ify the current state of affairs,” he added. Sarkozy insisted that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was “not irrational”. He argued the Russian president could be reached with the right kind of diplomacy from Europe, harking back to Mos­cow’s 2008 invasion of Geor­gia when he said he had “con­vinced (Putin) to withdraw his tanks”. “Russia is Europe’s neighbour and will remain so,” he said. “Diplomacy, discus­sion and talks remain the only way to find an acceptable solu­tion. Nothing is possible with­out compromise.” Sarkozy also argued that Ukraine should remain “neutral” and had no place in the EU or NATO.

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