explosive situation, Paris and Berlin repatriate their nationals

There is no diplomatic outcome on the horizon in the conflict over Ukraine. Proof that the concern is real, Paris and Berlin have called on their nationals to leave the country, even if Germany is tempered by the alarmism of the United States. RFI takes stock.

It is recommended that all French nationals whose stay in Ukraine has no compelling reason to leave the country. This travel advice was published on Saturday afternoon on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris.

The French finding themselves in the oblasts [divisions administratives, NDLR] from Kharkiv, Lugansk and Donetsk “, as well as in the Dnipro region, near Russia, are ” called upon to leave these areas without delay “, insists the Quai d’Orsay. The pressure therefore rises a notch for the French in Ukraine. Until now, Paris had simply advised to “ postpone any trip ” in the country.

This announcement came just minutes after a similar call from Germany: Berlin is asking its nationals to leave “ urgently » Ukraine. The Lufthansa company is also suspending its flights to the capital Kiev, and to Odessa in the south, from Monday. This weekend, a few last planes will still take off from the two cities, in particular to allow expatriates to leave.

The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority “Said a Lufthansa spokesperson. For the time being, Air France is still maintaining its flights, but the company says ” follow the situation closely “.

For its part, NATO has transferred its personnel present in Ukraine from Kiev to Lviv, in the west of the country, and to Brussels, to ensure its safety, declared this Saturday February 19, 2022 to an official of the Alliance. Several Western countries have already moved diplomats from Kiev to Lviv, a city near the border with Poland, in anticipation of Russian military action.

Kiev and Berlin more measured than Washington

The Ukrainian government said on Saturday prepare for all possible scenarios “, while the United States says it is convinced that Russia wants to invade Ukraine imminently.

But despite the request to its nationals to leave the area, Germany distances itself from American positions on the risk of invasion. ” In crisis situations, the worst is to assume or try to guess what will happen, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in Munich. The goal of this munich international conference on security was, however, precisely to coordinate the Western camp vis-à-vis Moscow.

The day before, US President Joe Biden said to himself, for the first time, “ convinced that Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukrainein the next few days “. Asked several times about the American assertions, the German minister contented herself with replying: “ We see that there are different scenarios, that different scenarios are emerging. »

We don’t think we should panic “added Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a little later, in front of an audience of diplomats and experts from around the world gathered in Munich, where he had finally decided to go this Saturday.

The Ukrainian president, for his part, avoided going too far on the American assertions: It is difficult for me to judge how the United States should use its intelligence “, did he declare. While saying “ grateful “for the information shared by Washington, he claimed to trust first” to the Ukrainian intelligence services, who understand what is happening along our borders “.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Munich Security Conference, Saturday February 19, 2022.

Zelensky wants a safe Ukraine

The Ukrainian president had decided to maintain his trip to Germany when Joe Biden wondered on Friday if he was ” wise is the word he used, that the Ukrainian president is absent from his country in this context of tensions.

In Munich, Volodymyr Zelensky urged Westerners to stop their policy “ appeasement vis-à-vis Moscow and to increase their military aid to Kiev. Above all, he also demanded a “ clear schedule about his country’s possible membership in NATO, while Moscow urges the West never to accept Kiev within the Atlantic Alliance, and to withdraw their troops from Eastern Europe. Ukrainian President:

We appreciate any help, but everyone should understand: it is not charity contributions that Ukraine should ask for […] It is your contribution to the security of Europe and the world. Where Ukraine has been the shield for eight years

President Zelensky was referring to the armed conflict in his country’s east with Moscow-backed pro-Russian separatists that began in 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea, and continues today . The conflict left more than 14,000 dead and 1.5 million displaced.

Faced with the bombardments in the Donbass, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Saturday evening that he would retaliate “not to” Provocation ” Russians and that he remained ready to “ dialogue » with Moscow for « avoid a major conflict “.

And to propose, for the sake of balance, a meeting with his counterpart Vladimir Putin: “ I don’t know what the Russian president wants, that’s why I suggest we meet “, did he declare.

Scheduled discussions, against the background of shootings

French President Emmanuel Macron must also meet on Sunday at 11 a.m. (10 a.m. UT) on the phone with his Russian counterpart to try ” to avoid the worst “, said the Elysee.

The fact that the meeting of Russian and American foreign ministers in Geneva next week has not been canceled is also a signal that it is still possible to avoid a tipping point into a full-fledged conflict.

►Also listen: In Chernihiv, the population remains calm despite the Russian threat

Faced with threats from Ukraine to join NATO, Russia has made proposals to guarantee its security: neutrality of Ukraine and return of NATO to its 1997 configuration to simplify. Maximalist proposals which are under discussion between Moscow, Washington and its European partners, recalls our correspondent in Moscow.

The impact of a ballistic shot carried out in Belarus as part of joint training between Ukrainian and Russian forces, this Saturday, February 19.

During the day, President Putin decided to make a show of force with maneuvers and firing cruise and ballistic missiles, while tension is at its height. The opportunity also for Vladimir Putin to present himself as a warlord and to show that he will defend what Russia considers to be its national interest.

►Also read: General mobilization in Donetsk and Lugansk, two soldiers killed

And with agencies