Last week scores of Russian media declared that French President Francois Hollande regrets the sanctions against Russia. RIA Novosti , one of Russia’s official news agencies was one of the first to run this fake story. The claim is based on a manipulated segment of a speech that Hollande delivered during France’s annual meeting of ambassadors in Paris.
The video and transcript of Hollande’s speech are available on the presidential website and the segment that RIA Novosti refers to runs from 15:37-16:05.
“The effects of the Ukrainian crisis are felt on relations between Russia and the Member States of Europe, in my view this situation is highly damaging because it is, first a high cost for some as for the other, for all players, hampers a number of economic projects because of the sanctions, and so we are all interested in finding the best way out of this situation as quickly as possible” said Hollande.(Les effets de la crise ukrainienne se font sentir sur les relations entre la Russie et les Etats membres de l’Europe, cette situation est à mes yeux éminemment dommageable, car elle est, d’abord d’un coût élevé pour les uns comme pour les autres, pour tous les acteurs, entrave de nombreux projets économiques en raison des sanctions, et donc nous avons tous intérêt à sortir le plus rapidement possible et le mieux possible de cette situation.)
While RIA Novosti’s translation of this part of Hollande’s speech is for the most part accurate, its interpretation is manipulative and distorts the meaning of his words. Hollande in fact said that he regrets the deterioration of relations between Russia and the European countries, not the sanctions. He did not call for lifting the sanctions as Russia has not removed the reasons that led to their introduction. The sanctions are a consequence of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its military aggression in the Donbas.