France denies Russian claim of discussion on Ukraine

The French defense ministry acknowledged the pair discussed Ukraine, but stressed Lecornu reaffirmed France’s support for Kyiv’s fight against Russia…reports Asian Lite News

Russia said that its defense minister Sergei Shoigu and French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu discussed the potential for talks on the Ukraine conflict during a rare telephone call on Wednesday, a claim that Paris immediately denied.

The unexpected call, which Moscow said was initiated by France, marks a rare instance of high-level contact between the two countries, whose ties have been severely strained by the two-year Ukraine war.

“Readiness for dialogue on Ukraine was noted. The starting points could be based on the Istanbul peace initiative,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement on the call.

It did not elaborate on what it meant, and a source close to Lecornu was quick to deny such a conversation took place.

“France neither accepted nor proposed anything of the sort” on the conflict, the source told AFP.

The French defense ministry acknowledged the pair discussed Ukraine, but stressed Lecornu reaffirmed France’s support for Kyiv’s fight against Russia.

NATO member Turkiye said last month it was ready to again host a peace summit between the two warring sides, but Kyiv has pushed back at the idea of negotiating directly with Moscow.

Ankara first hosted peace talks in the weeks after Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

Contacts between a senior Russian official close to President Vladimir Putin and a top minister from a European power have been rare in the two years since Russia’s invasion.

Both sides said the pair discussed last month’s deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall, which was claimed by Islamic State and roundly condemned by Western countries.

Lecornu told Shoigu that France was always ready to face down “terrorism” and was prepared for “increased exchanges with the aim of fighting this threat as effectively as possible,” the French defense ministry statement said.

The French minister reiterated “France’s firm condemnation and solidarity with the victims and their families,” adding that he “also unreservedly condemned the war of aggression that Russia has launched in Ukraine.”

According to the Russian defense ministry’s statement, Shoigu said he hoped France was not involved in the attack.

“The Kyiv regime does nothing without the approval of Western curators. We trust that in this case French special services are not behind it,” Shoigu was quoted as saying.

The Kremlin has pushed the narrative that the West and Ukraine were somehow linked to the attackers, an idea that the US and Kyiv have denounced as absurd.

Lecornu said that France had no information to establish a link to Ukraine, calling on Moscow “to stop all instrumentalization” of the attack, the French defense ministry said.

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