French and Russian officials have begun flinging accusations at one another in the wake of a high-profile phone call between both countries' defence ministers. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)


French and Russians feud after ministers’ phone conversation


French and Russian officials are slinging accusations at one another in the wake of a high-profile phone call between both countries’ defence ministers.

Paris’ Sébastien Lecornu spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on April 3, with the topics covered including the recent terror attack in Moscow and the Ukraine war.

While both parties agreed on the overall theme of the discussion, reports of the finer details varied widely.

According to the Russian press, the call was held at Lecornu’s request, with the French minister attempting to hammer home his claim that no Western country was behind last month’s terror attack in the Russian capital.

“He persistently tried to convince of the non-involvement of Ukraine and Western countries in the terrorist attack, shifting responsibility to ISIS,” the Russian defence ministry said.

Shoigu reportedly responded with scepticism, saying that while he hoped no French officials were involved in the plot, he claimed he had solid evidence that Ukraine was involved.

“The Kyiv regime does nothing without the approval of Western curators,” he added.

The Kremlin also described the French as expressing interest in holding further talks with Russia regarding the possibility of peace in Ukraine.

“The readiness for dialogue on Ukraine was noted,” Moscow officials said. “The starting points could be based on the Istanbul peace initiative.”

Shoigu is also claimed to have grilled Lecornu over claims that French troops could be deployed in Ukraine.

“With regard to the statements of the Élysée Palace about sending a French contingent to Ukraine, Sergei Shoigu indicated that if they are practically implemented, this will create problems for France itself,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

France’s version of the phone call was different.

While Paris agreed the issue of the Moscow terror attack was discussed and that Lecornu insisted no Western nations were involved, the Russians did not mention a warning from France not to “instrumentalise” the incident for the sake of legitimising their war in Ukraine.

The French defence ministry also denied Lecornu made any statements regarding possible peace negotiations, instead insisting he warned Shoigu that Paris would continue to back Kyiv in the conflict.

“France continues to support Ukraine as long and as intensely as necessary in its fight for freedom and sovereignty, in order to bring peace and security to the European continent,” a French statement on the matter read.