After more than a month in Lviv due to the Russian invasion, the French embassy in Ukraine returned to Kyiv this Friday.
An iconic scene. This Friday afternoon, the French flag was raised again in Kyiv in front of the French embassy building in the Ukrainian capital. Since the beginning of March it had actually been moved to Lemberg in the west of the country.
“It’s a very moving moment. (…) It means France is back in Kyiv, it means Kyiv wasn’t conquered, it means Kyiv and the Ukrainians were able to defend themselves against the aggression To defend.” , explained Étienne de Poncins, French Ambassador to Ukraine, on our antenna.
Kyiv is still at war
However, when he assures that “all safety conditions are met”, he explained that not everything has returned to normal. Only a “hard core” of ten people and a security team are present.
“We’re not coming back in the same format as before,” admits the diplomat, not hiding his “satisfaction.”
According to Étienne de Poncins, when “life returns to Kyiv”, he assures us that the capital is still a “city at war”. In addition, the whole country is still “formally not recommended” to all French people on the French diplomacy website. According to him, there are currently 200 French nationals in Ukraine.
A temporary return?
Since the war in Ukraine is not over yet, this return may only be temporary. “We have known since February 24 that the Russians can strike anywhere in Ukraine. We were in Lviv, there was bombing. Of course we reassess the security situation every day with the Quai d’Orsay. If the situation worsens.” , we would certainly make different decisions,” promises Étienne de Poncins.
An important statement given that Russia has promised to intensify its bombardment of the capital this Friday, the day after its flagship sank in the Black Sea. “The number and scale of rocket attacks on sites in Kyiv will increase in response to all terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage carried out on Russian territory by the nationalist regime in Kyiv,” the Russian Defense Ministry warned.
But now that the Russian army is no longer at the gates of Kyiv, it’s possible to stay in the capital to continue diplomatic work, which he says is “more effective” if the interlocutors can physically meet.