Meetings on the future of the Donbass have previously excluded Americans
US involvement in trying to create peace in eastern Ukraine should be welcomed, and Paris supports Washington joining the Normandy format designed to end the conflict, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, Macron said France and Germany would continue to represent the European Union, but added that the US would be a welcome addition to the Normandy format.
Founded in 2014, when France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine met on the sidelines of a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day allied landings, the group is tasked with resolving disputes in Ukraine's Donbass region. The group has not met since 2019, despite increasing tensions in the Eastern European country. Suggestions that other states join in the discussion, such as the US and the UK, have long been floated but have never come to fruition.
"[The] Normandy format remains in force. It is a proper platform for resolving the crisis in Ukraine. In this context, the US involvement in this process is a good sign that we should welcome," Macron said. "Negotiations between the United States and Russia are ongoing, and they concern not only Ukraine but also collective security between the two forces."
Macron's comments come as US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman tours Europe, conducting meetings with Russia, the EU, and NATO, with a focus on solving the continent's security concerns and a potential legally binding treaty with Moscow. Sherman is also tasked by the White House with trying to create a situation for peace in the Donbass, where war has raged since 2014.
The conflict in Ukraine began following the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled a democratically elected government. This eventually led to the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) declaring independence, a move recognized by neither Moscow nor Kiev. The Donetsk and Lugansk regions are both on the Russian border.
Macron's willingness to include the US marks a change of heart from Paris' previous stance. Last year, speaking at the 18th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed that Moscow previously proposed inviting the US to join the Normandy format, but Germany and France categorically refused to allow Washington take part.