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Russia’s defense minister gives rare warning to French counterpart not to send troops to Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) — In a rare phone call with his French counterpart on Wednesday, Russia’s defense minister warned his French counterpart against deploying troops to Ukraine and noted that Moscow was ready to participate in talks to end the conflict in Ukraine. conflict.

Sergey Shoigu told French Defense Minister Sebastien Le Cornou if Paris follows through on its statement on the possibility. Sending a French military contingent to Ukraine“This will cause problems for France itself,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.

The conversation followed comments by French President Emmanuel Macron in February, in which he said: Western troops are sent to Ukraine can not rule out.

The call was the first such contact between the Russian and French defense ministers since October 2022.

Shoigu noted that Moscow was “ready for dialogue on the Ukrainian issue” and stressed that a planned round of peace talks in Geneva would be “meaningless” without Russia’s participation. He added that possible future negotiations could be based on a draft document for talks between Russia and Ukraine to be held in Istanbul in March 2022.

Some media reported that the draft negotiated in Istanbul a few weeks after Moscow sent troops to Ukraine envisaged that Ukraine would give up joining NATO and remain neutral, but in the end no agreement was reached and the negotiations soon broke down.

The Russian Defense Ministry also said in a call on Wednesday that Lecornu expressed condolences over the incident. March 22 attack on a Moscow suburban concert hall It was the deadliest attack on Russian soil in decades, killing 145 people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his officials have sought to link Ukraine and Western countries to the attack, although Kiev strongly denies it, an affiliate of the Islamic State group has also claimed responsibility and the United States has alerted Moscow about the impending attack. Give advance warning.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Lecornu tried to convince Shoigu during the call that Ukraine and its Western allies had nothing to do with the concert hall attack, but Shoigu insisted that Moscow had “information about the traces of terrorist attacks by Ukrainian organizations.”

“The Kiev regime will not take any action without the approval of Western controllers. We hope that French special forces will not be involved,” the foreign ministry quoted Shoigu as telling Lekonou.

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