Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, received their Russian counterparts, Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoygu, within the framework of the Franco-Russian Cooperation Council for Security Issues.
This meeting is part of firm and rigorous dialogue that France is engaging in with Russia in order to increase the predictability and stability of our relations.
At this meeting, political and military dimensions of several international and regional crises were raised. In particular, the French Ministers spoke of the unacceptable nature of a deployment of Wagner mercenaries in the Sahel-Saharan strip. They reiterated their messages of firmness with regard to the risks of regional destabilization and the undermining of the interests of France and its partners fighting terrorism in the Sahel region. They underscored their attentiveness to adhering to the timeframe for transition by the Malian authorities.
The two Ministers expressed their concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Ukraine and clearly warned of the grave consequences that would have any fresh attempts to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity. They called on Moscow to reinvest in the Normandy Format negotiations and agree for a N4 ministerial meeting to be held in the near future, consistent with President Putin’s commitment. They also reminded Russia of the commitments it has made, within the framework of the OSCE, regarding the transparency of military movements and activities and the full implementation of the confidence-building and transparency measures provided for within this framework.
With regard to the situation in Belarus, the two Ministers condemned the irresponsible and unacceptable behaviour of the Belarusian authorities when it comes to the use of migration flows for political ends targeting several European Union countries. They encouraged Russia to mobilize its close ties with Belarus to ensure that this behaviour is put to an end.
The two Ministers also addressed the joint efforts of France and Russia in their positions as co-Chairs of the Minsk Group to reach a lasting peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the close cooperation between the E3 group and Russia in support of the swift resumption of negotiations with Iran so that Iran returns to compliance with the JCPOA at the earliest opportunity.
In the face of the international peace and security challenges posed by the crisis in Afghanistan, the two Ministers called for the permanent members of the UN Security Council to remain united in order to urge the Taliban to act in a tangible, lasting and verifiable manner to demonstrate their will to act in accordance with the international community’s expectations.
The two Ministers shared their assessments of the regional security situation in the Middle East, calling for the establishment of political conditions for refugees to return to Syria and the extension of the resolution on cross-border humanitarian assistance beyond January 2022. They underscored the complementary efforts of the Amman Group and the Quartet in the Middle East Peace Process.
The two Ministers addressed strategic stability issues, expressing their concern about the gradual elimination of arms control regimes in Europe. They welcomed the resumption of US-Russia dialogue on strategic stability, emphasizing that these discussions should fully take into account the security interests of Europeans. They underscored the importance of maintaining the channels of communication between the European Union and Russia, as well as Russia and NATO.
The Ministers also expressed their growing concerns about the human rights and civil liberties situation in Russia, particularly with regard to the situation of Alexei Navalny. Lastly, they stressed the importance of resolving the MH17 affair.