Putin meets ‘demanding’ Macron
Moscow has hailed the visit as a chance for Putin and Macron to get to know each other and better understand their views on Ukraine, Syria and Russia’s ties with the EU.
Macron’s election team accused Russian agents of launching cyber attacks against their campaign ahead of last month’s election.
During his campaign, Macron accused Russia of conducting “a hybrid strategy combining military intimidation and an information war”.
Moscow has denied all allegations of election meddling.
At the G7 summit in Sicily, Macron said: “It is essential to talk to Russia because there are a number of international issues that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them.”
Macron said he would have a “demanding dialogue” with Putin, especially on Syria. He called it a failure that western nations were not in the talks over Syria’s future but were dealing with its consequences, principally the huge influx of refugees.
“We must talk to Russia to change the framework for getting out of the military crisis in Syria and to build a much more collective and integrated inclusive political solution,” Macron told the G7 media.
France has joined a coalition supporting Sunni Arab and Kurdish groups battling Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who is largely propped up by Russia and Iran.
France is also vocal in its opposition to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Macron’s Front National opponent Marine Le Pen had an audience in Moscow in March with the Russian strongman appearing to support her far-right candidacy.
Le Pen and conservative hopeful Francois Fillon both backed ending western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis, in contrast to Macron’s more robust stance.
Le Pen’s party received large loans from Russian banks or financiers. She claimed that French banks would not give the far-right party any loans.
Tatyana Stanovaya of the Centre for Political Technologies, a Moscow-based thinktank, argued: “As a person who pays utmost attention to personal contacts, Putin believes that only a one-on-one meeting could give answers to many questions about Macron as a person and as president of France, as well as his future foreign policy course and his stance on Russia. Putin understands quite well that just one productive meeting could lead to a radical revamping of ties. It would be silly not to use that chance.”
Versailles was selected as the venue because an exhibition dedicated to the Russian czar, Peter the Great, is opening in the palace. He visited Paris 300 years ago on his European tour, which greatly influenced his reign and instilled him with a desire to modernise Russia.
Picture credit: Kremlin