10/12/2016, 11.12
RUSSIA-FRANCE-SYRIA
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The Kremlin "postpones" Putin's visit to Paris

by Nina Achmatova

Moscow could not accept the Elysee conditions, which had downgraded the visit of the Russian president with the worsening situation in Aleppo. The opening of the Orthodox cultural and spiritual center in Paris also postponed. Its inauguration "will depend on political decisions". Analysts: Putin risks losing his closest ally in Europe. A "new Cold War."

 

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Vladimir Putin's visit to France, scheduled for October 19, had been a year in preparation: Russian President was to have visited the Elysee for negotiations on Syria and open the new, disputed Russian Orthodox Church spiritual and cultural center in Quai Branly, near the Eiffel Tower,  ironically dubbed "Saint Vladimir", because it was considered by many as a center for the Russian espionage in France.

Yesterday, however, Moscow has said it had canceled the visit. Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, explained that "the Russian president is willing to go to Paris when François Hollande feels more comfortable”.

A few days earlier, the French President had expressed doubts on whether to meet with Putin, because of the worsening Russian-Syrian bombing of Aleppo. The head of the Elysee had spoken of "war crimes" committed by Bashar al-Assad with Russian air support.

 Anonymous sources have explained that this made it impossible for the Kremlin to accept the conditions set by Paris for the visit: Hollande had agreed to meet with his Russian counterpart, but only to discuss the Syrian conflict and would not have accompanied him, as had been expected, to the opening of the Orthodox church. This last event, meanwhile, has been suspended and sources of the Moscow Patriarchate told Interfax that everything will depend on a "political decision."

Speaking on the sidelines of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, the French president said he was "ready to meet Vladimir Putin at any time, if this will serve to advance the cause of peace. Dialogue is needed with Russia, but it must be transparent and frank. And not a simulacrum of dialogue. "

Paris, probably, could not respond differently to Moscow, after it had vetoed a resolution presented by France to the UN Security Council to demand an end to the aerial bombardment of Aleppo. It would be outrageous for Hollande to meet with Putin; Paris had no choice but to downgrade the level of the visit, political analyst Vladimir Frolov told the Moscow Times. In Moscow's eyes, it was a humiliation, added the analyst Mikhail Troitsky, so the Kremlin decided the postpone the visit.

With Barack Obama and Angela Merkel increasing pressure on Russia, Hollande had so far been the most open to dialogue, without calculating that the French business continues to make major investments in Russia. According to the president of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Pavel Chinsky, not a single French has company left the country during the crisis.

According to Frolov, the diplomatic incident will have an insignificant impact on the crisis in Syria or on Moscow's relations with the West. "Simply, the situation cannot be worse," said the analyst. The new Cold War is no longer just a mere figure of speech, noted the analyst of the Carnegie Center, Andrei Kolesnikov, in a speech on the RBC Daily. "The Russian president is planning a new type of Cold War, and different from the previous embodiment in which both sides had nuclear weapons, but they understood their inability to use them," Kolesnikov warned.

Putin could still meet Hollande October 19, but in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has called together the leaders of Normandy Quartet (France, Russia, Ukraine and Germany) for a "dinner" and talks on Ukraine, which at this point is also uncertain.

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