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Telephone conversation between the ministers of France and Russia. Paris accuses Moscow of manipulation

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Discrepancies regarding the telephone conversation between French and Russian ministers and diplomatic tension. Paris accuses the Kremlin of manipulation and using the conversation for propaganda purposes. Emmanuel Macron called the comments of the Russian authorities “baroque and dangerous.”

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu held a telephone conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday and again condemned Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine, Lecornu's office said in a statement. This was the first conversation between these ministers since October 2022. It was initiated by Lecornu at the request of President Emmanuel Macron.

However, Paris and Moscow are in disagreement over the content of the hour-long conversation, Politico reports.

Two versions

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The French side claims that the conversation was devoted exclusively to the fight against terrorism, while the Kremlin announced that the ministers also discussed Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday evening that both countries had announced that they were “ready to conduct dialogue” on the conflict in Ukraine. “The starting point could be the Istanbul Peace Initiative,” the ministry added.

“The purpose of the conversation was solely to discuss terrorism, and the narrative that France is open to talks on Ukraine is false,” a French official who wished to remain anonymous told Politico.

According to Paris, Lecornu proposed increasing the exchange of information between France and Russia as part of the fight against terrorism. The portal points out that France is facing an increased terrorist threat before the Olympic Games in Paris and in connection with the ongoing armed conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Vladimir Putin and Sergei ShoiguMikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

An unambiguous suggestion

“Moscow also used this opportunity to formulate not very veiled threats against France,” Politico comments.

As the portal writes, after Wednesday's conversation with his French counterpart, the Russian Minister of Defense issued a statement in which he suggested the involvement of the French secret services in last month's terrorist attack near Moscow.

Crocus City Hall after the attackPAP/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

The so-called Islamic State, but Moscow tried from the very beginning to link Ukraine with the attack.

“The Kiev regime will do nothing without the nod of its Western allies. We hope that this time the French secret services are not behind it,” Shoigu said.

Macron: baroque and dangerous comments

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron sharply criticized what he called the “baroque and threatening comments” of the Russians.

Earlier, a statement from the French Ministry of Armed Forces said that during a telephone conversation, Lecornu called on Russia to stop “manipulating” the terrorist attack in Moscow, adding that “France did not have any information linking the attack with Ukraine.”

“The bouncing between Paris and Moscow highlights the sour relations between the two countries after Macron changed his strategy from seeking a diplomatic solution to the war to calling for Ukraine's victory over Russia and warning about the possible sending of Western troops to Ukraine,” Politico writes.

“This is extreme manipulation”

Former French president Francois Hollande advised the current government not to contact Russian authorities. – Do you see how Russia is manipulating these discussions and implying that France may have supported the attacks in Moscow? – said the former president on France Inter radio.

In turn, former French Minister of Defense and currently special envoy of the French President in Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, condemned on Radio Sud the “unacceptable” use by Russia of the conversation with the French minister for its own propaganda purposes.

– This is extreme manipulation. We are dealing with complete manipulation and, unfortunately, instrumentalization of terrorism for propaganda purposes, he said.

The portal points out that France is also facing increased Russian disinformation attacks targeting the president's wife, Brigitte Macron, and accusing France and Poland of planning the partition of Ukraine.

Brigitte Macron and Emmanuel MacronChristian Liewig-Corbis/GettyImages

Main photo source: TERESA SUAREZ/PAP

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