Russian President Vladimir Putin took a jab at France today, saying it was “not so involved” in efforts to end the war in Syria amid a spike in tensions between the two countries. The comment comes a week after a heated row broke out over Russia’s use of its UN Security Council veto against a French resolution calling for a halt to the bombing of Aleppo.
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The tensions saw Putin cancel a long-planned visit to Paris on October 19, after French President Francois Hollande accused Syrian troops of committing war crimes in Aleppo with Russian support.
“France is not so deeply involved in the settlement of the Syrian conflict,” Putin said at a press conference on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in India.
“We remember when the (French) Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier approached the coast of Syria – and we had seemingly agreed to work jointly – but a few days later it turned away and headed toward the Suez Canal,” Putin said.
“What does that say?” he added.
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Putin said the French authorities had decided that the purpose of his Paris visit – the opening of an Orthodox cultural centre – was no longer “suitable for a joint event” given the circumstances in Syria.
“We have other issues apart from Syria, we could have discussed other issues,” he said.
Earlier in the week Putin had accused France of pushing for a UN proposal on Syria knowing Russia would veto it, saying the move was aimed at “inflaming the situation and fanning hysteria around Russia”.
Putin said today that Russia was “always ready to talk with everyone” on ways to end the five-year conflict, “especially large and great powers like France with all its capabilities”.
A brutal government offensive against rebel-held eastern Aleppo backed by Russian airpower has plunged Syria into some of the worst violence since the conflict erupted in March 2011.
The West has accused Moscow and Damascus of committing potential war crimes in the operations against eastern Aleppo.