Between Paris and Moscow, a reunion with daggers drawn

The influx of migrants to the border between Belarus and Poland was invited at the last minute in the discussions, as if to further strain a meeting that already promised to be explosive. The French and Russian governments relaunched, Friday, November 12, a discussion format suspended by Paris after the poisoning of the opponent Alexeï Navalny, in the summer of 2020. The French ministers of foreign affairs and armies, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly, received, in Paris, their Russian counterparts, Sergueï Lavrov and Sergeï Choïgou.

This “Security Cooperation Council” was set up at the initiative of President Emmanuel Macron, in a disputed attempt at strategic dialogue with Russia, after a tête-à-tête at Fort Brégançon (Var) with his counterpart Vladimir Poutine, in August 2019. A prospect of rapprochement more than ever overshadowed by the accumulation of contentious subjects. Alexeï Navalny is still in prison and the slightest opposition is suppressed by the Kremlin; for many European capitals, any attempt at detente is doomed to failure.

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To justify this dialogue “Firm and demanding “, The French officials had also warned: it was to address the issues that annoy.

First Mali, whose government is tempted to use the services of the Russian company of mercenaries, Wagner. Then, Ukraine, where the conflict remains, against the background of the noise of boots at the borders, on the Russian side. Finally, because it is the latest dispute to date, the “hybrid war” launched by Minsk on the migration front, by instrumentalizing the arrival of migrants at the borders of Poland and Lithuania, two countries in the forefront of denouncing the regime. Alexander Lukashenko, since his fraudulent re-election more than a year ago.

Sterile exchanges

The four-way meeting kept all its promises. On the French side, we did not hide, after the fact, that the discussions had been very tense. No press conference or joint statement had been announced. Each party was satisfied with a terse summary of the exchanges, which, hollow, gives an idea of ​​their sterility.

Thus, on Belarus, the two French ministers “Condemned the irresponsible and unacceptable behavior of the Belarusian authorities concerning the instrumentalization of migratory flows targeting several countries of the European Union [UE] “. They also encouraged Moscow “To mobilize its close ties with Belarus to get it to end”. The official report released by the Russian Foreign Ministry refers instead to “A situation which can only be resolved through respectful dialogue between the parties concerned and on the basis of humanitarian rights”.

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