Russia Summons French Envoy Following “Unacceptable” Comments by French Foreign Minister

Sat Apr 13 2024
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MOSCOW, Russia: Russia summoned the French ambassador to Moscow on Friday following “unacceptable” comments by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Sejourne said on Monday that France was not interested in talking to the Kremlin, days after a phone conversation between the Russian and French defense ministers ended in conflicting accounts.

French Ambassador Pierre Levy was informed of the unacceptable nature of such statements that have nothing to do with reality, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, condemning the “deliberate act” aimed at undermining the possibility of any dialogue between the two countries.

A French diplomatic said Friday: “The Russian ministry, as usual, does not accept that we correct its lies. “The minister recalled the reality of the exchanges and the Russian authorities’ attempt at manipulation following the call from the armed forces minister.”

It is the latest in a series of disputes between the two countries, whose relations have been strained since the beginning of this year by the protracted conflict in Ukraine.

After the two countries’ defense ministers met on April 3, Russia said it “hopes” that French intelligence services were not involved in the March 22 attack on a Moscow concert hall claimed by ISIS that left 144 dead.

France initiated the meeting to provide Russia with “useful information” about the attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron was outraged by the Russian proposal and condemned the “threatening” comments.

French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said late Friday that counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries was “unbroken” but “is not working in the partnership it should be.”

He said that France will continue to talk with Russia where it is useful. This is called defending French interests.

In January, Russia claimed to have killed 60 French “mercenaries” in Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, and Paris blamed a “coordinated disinformation campaign” from Moscow.

Russia also summoned Slovenian Ambassador Darja Bavdaz Kuret on Friday and announced that Ljubljana would expel the Slovenian diplomat “in return” for a similar decision against the Russian delegation in March.

On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it had taken similar action against Austrian Ambassador Werner Almhofer following Vienna’s expulsion of two Russian diplomats. In response, Moscow expelled the Austrian diplomat.

 

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