In Le Figaro, June 21, 2015
Translated from French March 7, 2016 by Tom Winter. Note: the title above is word for word for Le Figaro's original: "Un ex-diplomate Français suggère que Washington pourrait être à l'origine de la crise ukrainienne"
The French Ambassador to Moscow until 2013, Jean de Gliniasty deems that the Europeans should have "given" Sevastopol to Crimea and that Crimea "was always Russian."
Jean de Gliniasty is mad, very mad. Encountered between sessions at the St Petersburg forum, the former French Ambassador to Moscow, who makes no secret of his pro-Russian views, expatiates against the mistakes of European and French diplomacy on the Ukrainian file.
«It's five years of effort, wasted», regrets the man who represented the interests of France in Moscow from May 2009 to October 2013, leaving the Russian capital at the time of the large-scale demonstrations of the Maidan that led to the regime change, then to the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbass.
During those five years he was a tireless advocate for French companies in Russia, who who responded with appreciation, as he minimized the tightening imposed by Vladimir Putin on civil society on his return to the Kremlin in 2012 --views that were sometimes criticized at the Quai d'Orsay.
"It was not complicated," he said, "it was necessary to give Sevastopol to Russia and guarantee the status of the Russian language in the Crimea."
And the opinion of Kiev in all this?
"But Crimea has never belonged to Ukraine, it has always been Russian," replies Jean de Gliniasty, neglecting the fact* that the peninsula was a gift* from Nikita Khrushchev to Ukraine in 1954.
According to the former diplomat, this official return of Sevastopol to the Russian fold would have been accomplished at the latest at the end of the lease of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea - stationed in the port of Crimea - which was to expire in 2042.
The projects that could have been embarked on when Moscow began to oppose the signing of a Ukraine association agreement with the European Union, have been thwarted by the ignorance of history on the European side, and especially by American actions, analyzes Jean de Gliniasty. "They put themselves in the hands of the Americans," said the diplomat with regret.
He sees the hand of Washington in the episodic breakdown of the cease-fire in the Donbass. This was notably the case two weeks ago, as the European Union in the wake of the ceasefire breakdown decided to extend sanctions against Russia until January, 2016.
According to the former ambassador, who denounced these measures of reprisal, Ukraine would therefore remain one of the favorite playgrounds of American diplomacy, to block in the former Soviet space, and any hint of Russian imperialism: It's the famous Brzezinski doctrine that would inspire thirty years of American diplomacy, including Obama's, according to Jean Gliniasty.
On familiar ground, the latter rejoined François Fillon in St. Petersburg. Fillon was prime minister at the time and was received by Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, and also defends the same visions.
"Now people do not realize that we risk going to war. This is a disaster," asserts the former diplomat who, since leaving the Quai d'Orsay, began an active retirement as a consultant.
*A typical Le Figaro editorial snip, to which your translator responds "neglecting the fact that Krushchev's gift was contrary to the constitution, which required a vote."