France, Germany calls on Russia to return to negotiating table on Ukraine based on approved formats and agreed principles

Germany and France accused Russia of breaking diplomatic protocol after Moscow published their confidential correspondence over Ukraine, in signs of deteriorating ties between the EU and Russia.

Russia’s foreign ministry has released a number of diplomatic exchanges in the form of letters to show that its stance on talks over eastern Ukraine has been misrepresented.

“We consider this approach to be contrary to diplomatic rules and customs,” said French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre.

Both, France and Germany said, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had refused to hold a ‘Normandy format’ meeting with French, German and Ukrainian counterparts.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has downplayed the significance of the Russian move.

“The publication of letters isn’t so surprising. I often read my own letters in the papers. We certainly have nothing to hide,” said Merkel at a news conference on another matter.

She asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to arrange another round of talks before she leaves office.

Earlier France had accused Russia of refusing to accept a ministerial meeting along with Germany and Ukraine to discuss issues revolving around pro-Russian separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

The documents published by Russia showed significant differences between Moscow, Paris, and Berlin.

On Nov. 4, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a joint letter to Lavrov that Moscow’s draft had assessments that Germany and France did not share, such as the portrayal of an “internal Ukrainian conflict” among others.

According to two European diplomats, the publication of the correspondents by Russia is aimed at sowing confusion. Moscow’s strategy however appears to have backfired since it showed Moscow as trying to block the process by demanding numerous preconditions proving aiming to hold a meeting next to impossible. Legendre called on Russia to return to the negotiating table and continue discussions, but in the “approved formats and according to agreed principles.”

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