Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for "compromises" with Russia, and said he considered Ukraine's plans to liberate Crimea from Russian occupation to be "illusory," in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro published on Aug. 17.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office has already decried the former French leader’s statements.
Sarkozy, who in 2008, along with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, opposed granting Ukraine a NATO membership action plan (MAP), called the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has seen Moscow’s forces commit atrocities and war crimes, including genocide, "unfortunate."
He insisted that "Russia is a neighbor of Europe, and we need them and they need us."
In his opinion, the situation requires "working on compromises" and he said he wants the parties to find "balanced solutions" to end the war unleashed by the Russians.
Sarkozy said that Russia's occupation of Crimea in 2014 was a "clear violation of international law," but he then went on to parrot a common Russian propaganda trope.
"When it comes to this territory, which was Russian until 1954, and where the majority of the population has always felt Russian, I believe that any return to the way it was before is an illusion," he said, echoing the Kremlin’s line.
The former French president believes that "to confirm the current state of affairs" in Crimea and the "disputed territories" a referendum should be held, organized "under the strict control of the international community."
He said that if Ukraine fails to completely liberate these lands from the Russians, the choice will be between "a frozen conflict that will inevitably lead to a new hot conflict" and "referendums."
Also, according to Sarkozy, Ukraine should remain "neutral" and "has no place in the EU or NATO."
Reacting to these statements by the former French leader, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the President’s Office, said that Sarkozy was justifying Russia's wars of aggression.
He recalled how the encouragement of Western leaders like Sarkozy allowed Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to invade Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014.
"Criminals must not be encouraged by the phrase 'land for peace'," Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
"There are no 'new territories of Russia', no Russian rights to referenda, no cultural or linguistic peculiarities. You cannot trade other people's territories because you are afraid of someone or because you are friends with criminals."
Crimea and Donbas are the unconditional territory of Ukraine, and the only way to really stop the war is "the return of international law to these territories" and Russia's defeat, Podolyak said.
"There should be fewer provocations, fewer controversial statements, and fewer encouragements to commit crimes," he added.
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