The French embassy has returned to Kyiv but continues to “offer official advice against” the return of nationals, says the French ambassador

“It is not because the embassy is back in Kyiv that we have changed our travel advice, quite the opposite.”, insists on Sunday franeinfo Etienne de Poncins, the French ambassador to Ukraine. The embassy was moved to Lviv on February 28 due to the Russian invasion, and the embassy returned to the Ukrainian capital on Friday. But France always advises against doing this “officially” its citizens to travel to the country.

franceinfo: Volodymyr Zelensky will present Emmanuel Macron to Kyiv next Sunday. Will this happen?

Etienne de Boncin: I do not know. The President’s response. Coming to kyiv is something that was already on his mind but the conditions for a visit are not being met at the moment. You have to ask him the question.

Ukrainian president invites Emmanuel Macron to discuss the term genocide. A term used by the kyiv but not the Elysee. Is this justified in your opinion?

The President of the Republic was clear on this matter. The term genocide has a specific legal meaning. It is up to the International Criminal Court, in particular, to assess it. This is a discussion that deserves to be studied in great depth.

It seems that the return of the French embassy to Kyiv wants to show that the situation has improved in the Ukrainian capital. In your opinion, the conditions have not yet been met to bring the President of the Republic?

Regarding the embassy, ​​we have already seen that the security conditions are acceptable and that they have allowed the return of the embassy that has left Kyiv since February 28. So we spent seven weeks in Lviv.

“What has changed in particular is that the city is no longer directly threatened by encirclement and that Russian forces have crossed the border in the other direction.”

Étienne de Boncin

in franceinfo

Head north. Clearly, the city is still vulnerable to missile potential. But that, since the beginning of the war, we know that all of Ukraine is threatened by this kind of shooting. Besides, Lviv suffered from missile strikes.

On franceinfo in particular, we heard these horrific testimonies in the areas vacated by the Russian forces. In which state did you find the embassy in Kyiv? And besides, in which state do you find this city that looks a bit like yours?

We found the embassy in good condition and untouched. We restarted it with the mini team accompanying me. As for how, it was clearly no longer the city I had known before the war began. Life resumes slowly but is highly marked by conflict. There are barriers absolutely everywhere, security very tight, but we also feel a desire to resume the course of life, even if the war is still going on.

À ce propos, ce n’est pas parce que l’ambassade est revenue à Kiev que nous avons changé notre conseil aux voyageurs, bien au contraire : nous continuons à déconseiller formmellement à tous nos ressorestreants de se rends Ukraine in a war. Danger is everywhere. There are very few French left in Ukraine. There are Franco-Ukrainians who did not want to leave but their number is very limited.

On Sunday morning, you were speaking with the Ukrainian Defense Minister. We know that Ukraine wants additional arms shipments. Where are the discussions?

Yes sure. One of the interests of our return to Kyiv is to enable daily contact with the Ukrainian officials who remain in the capital. This interview with Ukraine’s Defense Minister also follows a conversation he had with Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly. Thus, to proceed with the accuracy of the Ukrainian requests, it is necessary that you receive one-on-one because not everything could be said in the telephone conversation that the two ministers had a few days ago. Take note of specific requests from Ukrainians. Next, Paris will consider what can be done. If the material is present, if it is available, etc. This is the ongoing dialogue that the Embassy has with the Ukrainian authorities in the military field but also in the field of humanitarian aid: in a few days we will welcome a convoy of civil security firefighters who will also come to respond to a very specific order. The request of the Ukrainians.

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