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France, Germany Accuse Moscow Of Diplomatic Breach For Publishing Ukraine Correspondence

A Russia-backed separatist prepares ammunition in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.
A Russia-backed separatist prepares ammunition in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.

France and Germany have accused Moscow of violating diplomatic protocol by publishing confidential correspondence related to efforts to resolve the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine.

"We consider this approach to be contrary to diplomatic rules and customs," French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said on November 18.

Germany's Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement.

Moscow published its correspondence with the so-called Normandy Format group -- which includes Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany -- one day earlier in what the Russian Foreign Ministry said was an effort to show that Moscow's positions had been misrepresented.

After Paris accused Russia of refusing to participate in a ministerial-level meeting of the Normandy Format countries and denied that the group had failed to respond to Moscow's proposals regarding the Ukraine conflict, Moscow published 28 pages of confidential correspondence that it claimed showed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said in advance that he could not participate in the proposed November 11 meeting.

After Moscow published the documents, Kyiv accused Russia of trying to undermine the Normandy process.

One of the released documents was a November 4 letter from the German and French foreign ministers taking exception to Moscow's characterization of the war between Russia-backed separatists and Kyiv as an "internal Ukrainian conflict."

Legendre said the publication of the documents showed that Moscow was trying to obstruct the process by insisting on numerous preconditions that the other parties could not accept.

She called on Russia to return to the talks as soon as possible.

For his part, Lavrov said in Moscow that when the prospect of a ministerial meeting was discussed, the French and German sides "were making arrogant, not very appropriate, and not very ethical statements."

At least 13,200 people have been killed in fighting in parts of eastern Ukraine between the central government and separatist formations that have been provided military, political, and economic assistance by Moscow.

Russia denies any involvement in the conflict, which broke out in the spring of 2014, shortly after Russia forcibly annexed the Ukrainian Black Sea region of Crimea, despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

With reporting by Reuters and TASS
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