Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Army General Sergei Shoigu announced the readiness of his department to cooperate with colleagues from France. He said this at a meeting in Moscow with the head of the Armed Forces of the Fifth Republic, Florence Parley.
“I share your focus on achieving concrete results today to give a new impetus to our strategic relations. I would like to note that we are determined to go in cooperation as far as our French colleagues are ready to go, ”said Shoigu.
The meeting between Shoigu and Parley took place as part of the meeting of the Russian-French Security Cooperation Council. The talks were held in the “2 + 2” format, the foreign ministers of the two countries also participated in them: Sergey Lavrov and Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Shoigu recalled that Presidents of Russia and France Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron agreed to resume contacts between the defense departments at a meeting in Fort Bregancon.
“It would seem that not so much time has passed since then, but we have already come a good enough path to bring our views closer,” he said.
The head of the Russian defense department added that a similar attitude was confirmed at the recent talks between the chiefs of general staffs of the two countries.
- Minister of the Armed Forces of France Florence Parley, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergey Shoigu at a press conference following a meeting of the Russian-French Security Cooperation Council in Moscow
- RIA News
- © Maxim Blinov
The Minister of Defense told reporters that Moscow submitted to Paris a number of proposals in the military sphere, which “could be implemented in the near future” without disclosing details.
Shoigu also invited the French military to take part in the Victory Day parade on Red Square on May 9, 2020. Earlier, the invitation to attend this event was accepted by the President of the Fifth Republic, Emmanuel Macron.
“We will be glad to see Madame Parley and the French military at the parade on Red Square in honor of the 75th anniversary of our common victory over fascism,” the Russian minister said.
The theme of common efforts in the fight against Nazism was also raised when Parley donated to Minister Shoig a photograph of the Normandie-Niemen French air regiment, published in the Le Poin newspaper in June 1944. In response to this, the head of the Russian Ministry of Defense presented his French colleague with today's issue of the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper, which published a photograph of the pilots of this regiment, taken January 1, 1943.
On the eve of her visit to Moscow, Parley gave an interview to TASS, in which she said that the purpose of her visit to Russia was to deepen bilateral relations.
“To search together with our Russian colleagues for ways to deepen our bilateral relations, in accordance with the wishes of our presidents following their meeting in southeastern France, in Bregancon,” the minister said.
She also noted that in many issues on the international agenda, Moscow and Paris have common interests.
“There are many geostrategic challenges for which France and Russia have common interests. Of course, we do not agree with each other on all issues, but this is precisely what prompts us to strengthen the dialogue, ”Parley said.
At the end of August, at a meeting with the ambassadors of the Fifth Republic, Macron called for relations with Russia, while noting that the era of Western hegemony was declining. He indicated then that in the near future the world will be divided into two poles: the USA and China. Under these conditions, the president argued, Europe should not push Russia away. Without Moscow, Macron said, “the reconstruction of European civilization” is impossible.
By the way, in parallel with today's meeting of ministers in Moscow, negotiations were also held between the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and the Secretary General for Defense and National Security of France, Claire Lande.
Syria, Iran and the INF Treaty
One of the central topics of negotiations in Moscow was the situation around Iran. Moscow and Paris have confirmed that they are committed to maintaining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian Nuclear Program (JCPOA).
“We agreed to continue cooperation in order to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan on the Iranian Nuclear Program. According to our mutual conviction, there is no reasonable alternative to this plan, ”Lavrov said.
He also praised Macron's efforts to save the nuclear deal.
“We welcome — and this was confirmed in a telephone conversation yesterday between President Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron — the initiative steps that France and its president are taking to find agreements that would preserve the full scope of the JCPA while ensuring that the legal plans Iran’s economic interests, ”the Russian Foreign Minister said.
The ministers discussed the situation in Syria. According to them, the coordination of the efforts of the two countries in the fight against terrorism in the territory of the Arab Republic will continue. At the same time, the problems of the return of refugees and the establishment of the political process in the country were raised. Sergei Shoigu said that Russia and France outlined "measures to coordinate joint efforts" in the fight against extremists.
“We discussed the situation in Syria, northern Africa and the Sahel region as these regions can become new refugees for terrorists, including those being squeezed out of Syria,” said Shoigu. “We noted the closeness of the views of our departments regarding the ways to stop these threats and outlined specific measures to coordinate joint efforts.”
The negotiators paid special attention to the security situation in Europe after Washington withdrew from the Treaty on Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty).
- Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the residence of French President Fort Bregancon
- RIA News
- © Sergey Guneev
“We elaborated on the situation in the field of strategic stability that developed after the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Missile Treaty,” Lavrov said during a press conference following talks with the French side in the “2 + 2” format. - Our position on this subject is known, it has been repeatedly confirmed by President Putin. We will not place such systems in those regions where similar American-made systems will not appear. ”
Among the topics raised at the meeting was the conflict in Ukraine. According to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Paris hopes that the leaders of the "Norman Four" will meet "in the coming days." He noted that in the resolution of the conflict in the south-east of Ukraine, significant progress has recently been made, one example of which is the exchange of prisoners.
“There can be no talk of long-term cooperation with Russia if the situation in Ukraine does not change for the better. “We have noted significant progress, significant progress in recent months,” said Le Drian. “The release of 70 prisoners on Saturday is the concrete result that France so encouraged, and I believe that it is necessary to take advantage of the current climate to fully implement the Minsk agreements.”
According to the editor of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine Alexei Leonkov, Moscow and Paris can mutually beneficial cooperate in many areas.
“There are many points of interaction between France and Russia, including joint aviation and space programs. Paris understands that the existing sanctions policy against Moscow, in which it is forced to participate, does not bring any benefits other than political dividends and approval from the United States, ”he said in an interview with RT.
In the Moscow talks, the analyst saw a sign that Macron was trying to establish closer ties with Russia.
“Paris is trying to establish direct ties with the Russian Federation in order to get out of this belt of sanctions, as some representatives of Germany do,” Leonkov said.
The analyst pointed out that France, like Germany, supports the construction of Nord Stream 2, as Paris "understands that business should be outside politics and energy independence determines the situation in the economy." In turn, Russia, Leonkov said, "offers France to participate in the development of the Northern Sea Route, including on security issues."
Leonkov did not rule out that as a result of renewed military contacts between Russia and France, a decision could be made on conducting joint peacekeeping operations in Africa.
“Most likely, France and Russia will begin to renew ties through military-technical cooperation and, possibly, carry out some kind of peacekeeping operations, for example, in Africa, which is the main supplier of Paris’s headache, because of the constant local conflicts involving of various groups, migrants arrive in French territory, ”Leonkov said.
“Under US pressure”
As Leonkov noted, the reason for the cooling of relations between Paris and Moscow was the sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States against Russia. Because of them, he explained, a rather long history of close interaction between the two countries was interrupted, including in the military-technical sphere.
“France and Russia had a fairly strong relationship before Paris joined NATO, but military-technical cooperation continued between the countries after that. The situation changed somewhat when the sanctions policy took over the sensible policies of the French leadership, ”explained the interlocutor of RT.
In his opinion, Paris decided to change its approach in relations with Russia, because the French leadership realized that after returning to NATO, the country began to lose independence.
“Macron took the path of establishing relations with Russia, because after returning to NATO, France lost more than it won, especially on the issue of independence. She immediately fell under US pressure, which began to dictate her will to her. In addition, France’s defense industry suffered direct economic damage when the Mistral supply contract with Russia was terminated and the US military-industrial complex began to oust Europeans from the arms market. Now the French are trying to preserve their national heritage in the form of their enterprises. And close cooperation with Russia favors this, ”he said.
In turn, the head of the Center for French Studies of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yuri Rubinsky, called the Russian-French talks a new stage in relations between the two countries.
“The fact that Macron has embarked on a broader dialogue with Russia demonstrates that a new stage has come in relations between Paris and Moscow,” he said in an interview with RT.
He also did not rule out that the rapprochement with Moscow, Paris could previously coordinate with Washington.
“It is possible that Macron and Trump agreed on a further search for dialogue with the Russian Federation. I think that the bilateral Russian-French dialogue is to some extent coordinated with Washington, because Florence Parley met with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper before negotiations with Shoigu, ”the expert summed up.