France's Hollande to visit Georgia as Ukraine peace deal falters
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French President Francois Hollande is set to visit Georgia in the coming days in an effort to improve ties with Russia’s pro-Western neighbour during a time of increased tensions in the region.
“The French president will be here in a few days, the visit is being prepared,” French foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a joint statement with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The two ministers were in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi after having visited Moldova to help both countries’ bid to sign a political and trade agreement with the European Union.
The pact is the same one that Ukraine’s pro-Kremin president Viktor Yanukovych rejected in November, setting off mass protests against his rule.
Hollande’s visit to Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in 2008, comes as the situation in Ukraine has intensified.
The Geneva accord, signed last week by the US, EU, Russia, and Ukraine, is aimed at calming the crisis in Ukraine but has wavered even further as Russia accused the US of instigating a revolution to weaken Russia.
"Few doubt that we are talking not only about Ukraine’s fate," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying. "They are trying to use Ukraine as a pawn in a geopolitical game."
Lavrov asserts that the US and EU were behind the uprising that deposed Ukrain’s pro-Kremin president Viktor Yanukovych in February.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has warned that Russia could face consequences for failing to end the violence in eastern Ukraine and for refusing to remove armed groups from official buildings, as outlined by the Geneva accord.
France is also sending four of its fighter jets to patrol over the Baltic states starting on Sunday as a symbolic act to reassure the region over Russia's intervention in Ukraine.
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