Vladimir Putin has cancelled his planned trip to France intended to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria. The announcement comes as Moscow finds itself increasingly at odds with the international community.
Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin
The decision was announced on Tuesday by officials in Paris and later confirmed by Russian state media.
“The visit of the president to Paris on October 19 won’t take place,” a source within the Kremlin told TASS news agency.
Following the announcement, French President Francois Hollande said he was willing to meet Putin “at any time…to further peace.” The Kremlin for its part said Putin was “ready to visit when it is comfortable for President Holland.”
Putin was planning to inaugurate a new Russian Orthodox church that will open next to the Eiffel Tower, in what was described as a largely “private” visit.
According to French officials, Moscow cancelled the trip after the presidency said Hollande would only attend a “working meeting” on Syria with Putin.
Tensions over Syria
The decision by Moscow to cancel the trip also comes a day after France said it wanted the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch investigations into alleged war crimes in Syriacommitted by Russia and the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The international community has sharply criticized Moscow for the killing of civilians in rebel-held areas of the country. “These bombings – and I said it in Moscow – are war crimes,” French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault told a radio station in France.
Earlier, Russia had blocked a UN Security Council proposal to end air strikes on Aleppo, which has become the epicenter of the Syrian conflict. The document called for an immediate end to fighting in Syria, including the cessation of air strikes over Aleppo and the allowance of humanitarian aid to enter the country.
Russia proposed its own resolution during the UN Security Council, essentially the same only without references to the air strikes. That proposal also failed after garnering votes from only China, Venezuela and Egypt.
Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the French-drafted resolution was propagandistic.
blc/kl (AP, AFP)