PARIS: France will “not tolerate the slightest infringement” of the Minsk peace accord in Ukraine warned President Francois Hollande following a meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Paris Monday.
“The Minsk accord is the only possible basis to re-establish peace,” Hollande told reporters.
“We must not tolerate the slightest infringement and the ceasefire must be respected and heavy weapons withdrawn.”
Stoltenberg warned that the West must remain vigilant.
“The ceasefire is fragile but it seems it is holding,” he said.
“It’s important that all sides respect their commitments and that separatists backed by Russia don’t use this pause in fighting to prepare a new offensive.”
Hollande said he was due to hold another phone call with the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Germany on Monday evening to discuss the situation.
He also restated his opposition to expanding NATO to include new countries, but took the opportunity to call on other countries to meet their defence commitments.
“We hope that many countries take into account not only what we are doing but what they must do to respond to the different threats,” he said.
Both leaders condemned last week’s murder of Russian opposition activist Boris Nemtsov in Moscow.
“He was a strong voice for democracy. We call for an impartial investigation into this terrible crime,” said Stoltenberg.
The NATO secretary general praised France’s contribution to shoring up defences in eastern Europe and developing the alliance’s new rapid response force.
“NATO is implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War, (and) France is playing a key role and a leading role” he said.