(Beijing) China assured Monday to respect the “sovereign state status” of the countries of the former USSR, after the controversial statements of its ambassador in France.

“China respects the sovereign state status of the republics” born after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters.

She assured that “China respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries and supports the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.”

The Chinese ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, questioned on the French news channel LCI about the Ukrainian province of Crimea annexed since 2014 by Moscow, had denied the sovereignty of former Soviet republics on Friday evening.

The countries of the former USSR “do not have effective status in international law because there is no international agreement to concretize their status as sovereign countries”, he said on Friday evening. .

These remarks provoked an outcry in the States concerned.

On the French side, an interview on Monday “between the chief of staff and the Chinese ambassador will be the occasion for very firm clarifications”, declared the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to AFP. “This interview was planned” before the ambassador’s statements on Friday. “We’re going to get the right messages across,” he added.

The Chinese ambassador’s remarks were described as “unacceptable” by the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrel, for whom “the EU can only assume that these statements do not represent the official position of China”.

“The three Baltic states will convene their Chinese envoys on Monday “to ask for clarification, whether China’s position has changed on independence and to remind them that we are not post-Soviet countries, but countries having been illegally occupied by the Soviet Union,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics also denounced the “completely unacceptable” remarks.

His Estonian counterpart Margus Tsahkna called them “false”, a matter of a “misinterpretation of history”. “According to international law, the Baltic States have been sovereign since 1918, but they were occupied for 50 years” by the USSR, he continued.

In fact, Beijing distanced itself on Monday from the remarks of its ambassador, who is part of the “wolves fighters”, this new clan of Chinese diplomats not mincing their words in the face of a West perceived as systematically hostile to Beijing.

“After the collapse of the Soviet Union, China was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with relevant countries,” Mao said.

“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China has always adhered to the principle of mutual respect and equality to develop bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation,” the spokesperson added.

“Some media have misinterpreted China’s position on the Ukraine issue and are sowing discord in relations between China and relevant countries,” she said, “we will be vigilant about this.”

Regarding Crimea, occupied by Moscow since 2014, Mr. Lu Shaye said that “Crimea was at the very beginning to Russia. It was Khrushchev who offered Crimea to Ukraine in the days of the Soviet Union.”

“All countries of the former USSR have a clear sovereign status enshrined in international law,” Mykhaïlo Podoliak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, fired back on Twitter before quipping: “If you want to be a major political player, don’t parrot Russian propaganda.”