March 20, 2018
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Vladimir Putin by telephone on Monday to congratulate the Russian leader over his landslide victory in the presidential election, the Elysée Palace said in a statement.
REALLY? Macron congratulates Putin on election SUCCESS just days after ‘EU unity letter’
Mr Macron wished his counterpart “success for the political, democratic, economic and social modernisation” of the country despite widespread criticism of the nation’s democratic process and Britain calling for further sanctions against the ex-Soviet state.
Mr Macron also pressed the newly re-elected leader to throw light on the “unacceptable attack” against a former Kremlin spy on British soil earlier this month.
He was said to have urged Mr Putin to “take back control” of the fight against chemical weapons after it was found that former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned with a Soviet-developed nerve agent of military grade known as Novichok on March 4.
Both Skripals remain in critical but stable condition.
He also called on the Russian authorities to “offer clarity” on their involvement in the attack, and to disclose any arms programmes that may not have been declared to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Mr Macron’s office continued.
REALLY? Macron congratulates Putin on election SUCCESS just days after ‘EU unity letter’
But his words on the election will be seized on by the Kremlin, keen to highlight global justification in Putin’s win in the face of a brutal crackdown of the Russian leaders challengers.
Sunday’s election saw Putin elected to another six years in power putting him just behind Joseph Stalin as the longest-serving leader the country post Tsarist Russia.
And the words followed a joint statement from France, Germany, America and the UK blaming Russia for the nerve agent attack.
The British government blamed the Russian state for the nerve agent attack, with foreign minister Boris Johnson saying that it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Mr Putin had ordered the hit on Mr Skripal.
France’s 40-year-old head of state however, stressed the importance of maintaining a “constructive dialogue” between the bloc, France and Russia.
“The French president underlined his conviction that, once everything has been clarified, cooperation between Europe and Russia is essential for the security of the European continent and in the interests of our countries,” the statement said.
Mr Macron also expressed his concern over the impact of escalating violence in Syria, telling Mr Putin – one of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s most important allies – that he should be doing more to end the fighting and prevent civilian casualties in Syria, namely in eastern Ghouta and the rebel-held enclave of Afrin.

But while Mr Macron avoided commenting on allegations of widespread violations and shortcomings in Sunday’s presidential election, he did mention Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea – officially a part of Ukraine –, saying that France “remained attached to the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.
Mr Putin signed a controversial bill to absorb the Black Sea peninsula into Russia in March 2014, drawing worldwide condemnation.
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