Russia summons French ambassador after Stéphane Séjourné’s remarks deemed “unacceptable” by Moscow

Russia summoned Pierre Lévy, the French ambassador to Moscow, on Friday April 12, after comments deemed “unacceptable” by the head of French diplomacy, Stéphane Séjourné

Russia summons French ambassador after Stéphane Séjourné’s remarks deemed “unacceptable” by Moscow

Russia summoned Pierre Lévy, the French ambassador to Moscow, on Friday April 12, after comments deemed “unacceptable” by the head of French diplomacy, Stéphane Séjourné.

On Monday, the latter estimated that Paris no longer had any interest in discussing with Moscow. “It is not our interest today to discuss with Russian officials since the press releases that come out, the reports that are made are lies,” he declared a few days after a telephone conversation between ministers of the Russian armies and French which resulted in divergent reports.

“The French ambassador was informed of the unacceptable nature of such statements, which have nothing to do with reality,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We consider these statements by the French foreign minister as a conscious and deliberate action by the French side aimed at undermining the very possibility of any dialogue between the two countries,” he continued.

Degraded relationships

After an April 3 conversation between defense ministers Sébastien Lecornu and Sergueï Choïgou that aimed to convey “useful information” to the Russians about the attack on Crocus City Hall near Moscow in March, French President Emmanuel Macron had denounced “baroque and threatening comments” from the Russians.

In its report of this interview, of which Paris had taken the initiative, Russia said it “hoped” that the French secret services had not been involved in this attack, which left 144 dead on March 22. Speculations denied by France.

Relations between Paris and Moscow have deteriorated since the start of the year, against a backdrop of conflict in Ukraine. Russia notably claimed in January to have killed 60 French “mercenaries” in Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, while France denounced “a coordinated maneuver” of disinformation emanating from the Russians.

Russian diplomacy also announced that it had summoned Slovenian Ambassador Darja Bavdaz Kuret on Friday to warn her of the expulsion of a Slovenian diplomat as a measure of “reciprocity” following a similar decision by Ljubljana in March against a Russian representative. On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it had done the same with Austrian Ambassador Werner Almhofer, after the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Austria. Moscow said it had expelled an Austrian diplomat in response.