Andrius Kubilius: Paris Supports Ukraine (Reflections from the U4U Mission to Paris)

2022-11-08 | Political initiatives

We have finished the U4U delegation visit to Paris. Two days of discussions about Ukraine and for Ukraine in the President’s office at the Élysée, the National Assembly, the Senate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commonly referred to as Le Quai d’Orsay.

And a little about the prospects of democracy in Russia – if the West helps Ukraine win and crush Putin.

The overall conclusion is that Paris looks pretty good from the political point of view. Much better than it looks to us from Vilnius or from Brussels. We heard many words of heartfelt support for Ukraine, especially in the Parliament. Engaging in intensive political work in Paris is certainly worthwhile, because the issues that are important to us are not hopeless.

We have talked about everything from a much greater supply of arms and France’s obligation to provide Ukraine with at least 1 500 generators by this winter (Ukraine needs at least 20 000 generators for this winter; if we spread the task proportionally among all the Western democracies, France should provide 1 500 generators, and Lithuania should provide 70). Paris was not frightened by this number.

Of course, we were not just talking about generators.

Much attention was paid to agreeing that negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the EU should start not at some point in the future (as the EU bureaucrats are now saying), but in 2023. We focused even more on the establishment of a special tribunal to investigate Putin’s responsibility for the crime of aggression. This is a crime committed by the Kremlin’s leadership and not by ordinary Russian sergeants. Such a crime cannot be investigated by the ICC Tribunal, but requires a special Tribunal that could be set up as early as next year. It could be able to approve the indictments for such a crime within a year. We also talked about the recognition of Russia as a terrorist state, about sanctions against all members of the Duma parties and about whether such a terrorist state can remain an ordinary member of the United Nations, let alone a member of the UN Security Council.

Of course, we did not agree on everything. But there is more optimism about Paris’ attitudes after the visit than I had before the visit.

Finally, we understand that the day after our visit, Mr Macron will give an important strategic speech on French Defence Policy. In a few weeks’ time, the National Assembly is ready to approve the first parliamentary resolution on French support for Ukraine. On 12-13 December, French President Macron is organising an important international conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Political and material support from the Western capitals is important for Ukraine. We can help Ukraine to be heard in the Western capitals and to help these capitals understand the importance of Ukraine for the future of Europe.

Finally, once again, I cannot fail to praise the Ukrainian parliamentarians: their excellent knowledge of English and French, their international education and work experience, their matter-of-factness and their modern intellect. In fact, it would be difficult for our MPs to compete with their Ukrainian counterparts.


By Andrius Kubilius

8 November, 2022