Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to “wipe Ukraine off the map of nations”, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.
In response, the minister told France Inter radio that the European sanctions announced in the past 24 hours are aimed at “asphyxiating the functioning of Russia, strangling the functioning of Russia”.
Putin, Le Drian said, “has chosen a massive offensive – he has decided to take Ukraine off the map of nations.”
The minister said that the French sanctions against Russia which have not yet been announced by President Emmanuel Macron “will be drastic and strong – that means freezing their means, freezing their checkbooks, 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 the sanctions so far, Le Drian replied, “because we had to move fast.”
There are no taboos” on sanctions, he added, “there will be other sanctions”.
The minister said European leaders had received Ukrainian requests for military, financial and humanitarian aid, which he said they were responding to.
“They asked for a whole list of [military] equipment that we are studying,” he said.
Le Drian said the security of the Ukrainian president is “a central part of what is happening right now”, following Volodymyr Zelensky’s comments that Russia was targeting him and his family.
The Minister said that “it is important that [Zelensky] remains at his post” and that France was ready to help “if necessary”.
Today “it’s not the same as the Cold War,” Le Drian said. “Now there is war in the heart of Europe.”