During the Minsk talks in 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to exert pressure on and threaten his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, according to ex-French leader (2012-2017), Francois Hollande.
In an interview with Pryamyi TV Channel, Hollande explained that in his book "Lessons of Power," he had not sought to reveal any secrets but rather "tried to describe the general atmosphere that prevailed at those meetings and those [Minsk] talks."
"I wanted to show the attempts by President Putin to exert some pressure and resort to certain threats. However, despite this, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, retained real dignity and firmly defended his position. For our part, Mrs. Merkel and I tried to do everything to come to a ceasefire agreement and find a way out of this difficult situation," Hollande said.
"In fact, everything lasted for a very long time, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that since morning, President Putin had been testing our patience even more when he made us wait, pretending that he allegedly had no contact with the separatist leaders. But however, he did manage to come to a certain agreement with them," the former French president added.
As UNIAN reported earlier, in his book "Lessons of Power," Francois Hollande recalls how the Minsk agreements were being reached in February 2015.
He wrote that Putin's intentions were quite obvious as the Russian president sought to maintain his influence on the Russian-speaking regions and weaken as much as possible the pro-European government in Kyiv. After the failure of the ceasefire regime, the fighting between the Ukrainian army and paramilitar separatist units flared up again so Western negotiators hoped to “stop the shooting and find a compromise that would preserve Ukraine's territorial integrity." At the same time, the former French president said that the talks were initially fruitless and it was in line with the goals of the Russian side.
"I quickly realized that Putin wanted to gain time and delay the ceasefire for as late as possible to allow the separatists to surround the Ukrainian army and gain more ground,” Hollande wrote. “Together with Angela Merkel, we propose to resume negotiations in a narrow format, refuse from dinner and get down to work as soon as possible.”
He wrote that several times during the talks, things heated up between Poroshenko and Putin, who suddenly snapped and threatened to simply crush the Ukrainian troops. This revealed that there were Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. Putin regained composure and took it back, according to the former French President.