Date: 19 November 2021

Macron, Putin Discuss Belarus Border Tensions

Russia and France have increased contacts between their top officials. It is not only about a phone conversation between the presidents, but also a two-plus-two meeting in Paris, where French and Russian defense and foreign ministers met.


French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 15 talked on the phone about the need to deescalate the tensions around the migrant pressure on the European Union’s border with Belarus. Macron urged Putin to use his influence on Lukashenko to stop using migrants as a weapon against the European Union. He mentioned the need to cooperate with Moscow in this respect. The French leader also referenced the reports about Russian troops amassing near the Ukrainian border. Paris has seemingly no idea how to break the deadlock on Donbas and the Russia-Ukraine conflict as much. It suggested convening a meeting of the decaying Normandy format, which can hardly be considered a good plan. Three days before the two leaders held talks, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly met with their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu. “We view the U.S. aggressive military activity in the Black Sea region as a threat to regional security and strategic stability,” the top Russian diplomat said. Lavrov added relations between Moscow and the European Union had reached a dead end and the Russian delegation proposed to look for a way out. Shoigu stressed the importance of working with France to determine steps to deescalate the situation in Europe and prevent military incidents. France urged Moscow to use its influence on Lukashenko to stop using migrants as a weapon against the European Union. In addition, French officials warned Moscow against a new attack on Ukraine. The meeting was part of the two-plus-two formula France initiated a few years ago. The meeting was the first in this format since last year’s poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. France canceled a similar meeting in September last year in the aftermath of the attempted killing.

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