The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted the texts of letters exchanged between Sergey Lavrov, Head of Russian MFA, and his colleagues from France and Germany on its website. Their subject concerns Ukraine, in particular the war in Donbas. Moscow explains the leakage of confidential information by "frequent distortion" of the Russian position on this issue.
How Moscow explains leak
"As of late, Russia’s position, its role in the settlement of the internal Ukrainian conflict and approaches to holding a Normandy format ministerial meeting have been distorted. In order to prevent further speculations, the Foreign Ministry of Russia has decided to bring out the primary sources and publish the diplomatic correspondence between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian," the MFA of the RF states.
Lavrov reportedly informed his colleagues in advance of the forthcoming public disclosure of the confidential correspondence. He indicated that he was taking this step, given that France and Germany on November 15 had laid the blame on the Russian Federation for another attempt to undermine the territorial integrity of Ukraine and refusal to meet in the Normandy format.
How France and Germany respond to leak
The French and German authorities called the Kremlin's actions a violation of diplomatic protocol.
"We have accepted the decision of Foreign Minister Lavrov to make these confidential discussions public. We consider this step as a violation of diplomatic practice," the French and German MFAs state.
How Ukraine perceives public disclosure of Normandy format diplomatic correspondence
Dmytro Kuleba, the Head of the Ukrainian MFA states that by such actions the Kremlin is "finishing off" the Norman format.
Russia... demonstrates that it is not interested in its improvement. And, of course, it undermines any shred of credibility to it. I can say one thing: we have agreed with our German and French colleagues that we will not give Russia the luxury of destroying the Normandy format by proxy.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
The experts agree that Ukraine will benefit from the Russian leak. Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, the former Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration (2015-2019), is among them. He is convinced that this is good news—the content of the correspondence testifies to the unconditional support of France and Germany for the Ukrainian position.
"Moscow didn’t need to leak the correspondence for some reputation achievements… The RF had to once again publicly remind about its position. Instead of the Normandy meeting, where it would have to once again find itself under political and diplomatic pressure... Moscow continues to consider the settlement of the situation in Donbas and the future status of these territories through the prism of preventing Ukraine's integration into either the EU or NATO," he points out.
He adds that this move by Moscow drew a bold line under the attempts of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to "pacify" Russia. The Kremlin, according to him, "did not change its position one iota, not appreciating the curtsey on the part of Bankova."
Context. On November 15, the Foreign Ministries of France and the FRG expressed regret over Russia's refusal to take part in the Normandy format ministerial meeting.
"We express regret that Russia has repeatedly refused to meet at the level of Foreign Ministers in the Normandy format and once more express our readiness to meet and engage constructively and substantially," the statement says.