Putin wants to “take Ukraine off the map of nations,” French foreign minister says

Putin wants to

Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to “take Ukraine off the map of nations,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

In response, the minister told radio station France Inter that European sanctions announced in the last 24 hours are designed to “asphyxiate the functioning of Russia, to strangle the functioning of Russia.”

Putin, Le Drian said, “chose a massive offensive — he has decided to take Ukraine off the map of nations.”

The minister said that French sanctions against Russia that are yet to be announced by President Emmanuel Macron “will be drastic and strong — that means freezing their means, freezing their check books, that means no longer being able to have economic activities in France.”

Asked why restrictions on Russia’s access to the SWIFT banking system were not included in sanctions so far, Le Drian said, “because we had to go quickly.”

There are no taboos” on sanctions, he added, “There will be other sanctions.”

The minister said that European leaders had received Ukrainian requests for military, financial and humanitarian aid, which he said they were following up on. 

“They have requested a whole list of [military] equipment that we are studying,” he said. 

Le Drian said that the security of the Ukrainian president is “a central element of what’s going on now,” following comments from Volodymyr Zelensky that Russia was targeting him and his family. 

The minister said that “it’s important that [Zelensky] remains in his post” and that France was ready to help “if necessary”. 

Today “is not the same thing as the Cold War,” Le Drian said. “Now there’s war at the heart of Europe.”

Original Source :cnn.com