Just days after a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine, France has called out for a reset in its relationship with Russia. Russia currently has sanctions imposed against it by the European Union and the United States over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
The current political climate between Ukraine and Russia is tense, but the prisioner’s exchange between the two provides a window of opportunity to ease the aura of distrust and uncertainity which led to the sanctions.
In a statement to the media during the first two plus two dialogue between France and Russia since the Crimea incident, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, ” The time is right to work towards reducing the distrust between Russia and Europe, who ought to be partners on a strategic and economic level.”
Yet the minister believed that it was too early for the sanctions imposed by the EU to be lifted. The French Foreign Minister along with the French Defence Minister Florence Parly met with theri Russian Conterparts, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister and Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defence Minister.
France has been trying to rapproch Russia into a dialogue with the West who are still skeptical about the intention. Russia has been trying to outmanoeuver the west by siding with the Assad regime in Syria and its policies towards Iran.
The relationship between Russia and the West have further soured over the recent Skripal poisioning in the UK which had led to a new set of sanctions imposed. The EU members are still worried about the rapprochment with Russia but given that most of the EU members are dependant on the country to fulfill their energy needs.
France also finds Russia as a critical partner for their growing zone of influence in the former french colony of Central African Republic. Yet somehow the critics of the talk feel that it is too soon to even think about having a steady relationship with Russia.
The rapprochment is a part of French President Emmanuel Macron attempt to bring Russia in back for talks which have been stalled since 2015. This would also be seen as an attempt by Russia to create a foundation to calm down the cold relations which have led to the sanctions against it.