French, Russian Defense Ministers Discuss Terrorist Attack, War In Ukraine In Rare Phone Call


(RFE/RL) — The French and Russian defense ministers spoke by phone on April 3 in a rare call that touched on the war in Ukraine and the terrorist attack at an entertainment venue outside Moscow nearly two weeks ago in which more than 140 people died.

The one-hour call between French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, came with the attack at Crocus City Hall reviving security fears as France prepares to host the Olympic Games starting in July.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Islamic State, a recognized terrorist organization that has previously carried out attacks in France.

Lecornu told Shoigu that France was always ready to face down terrorism and was prepared for “increased exchanges with the aim of fighting this threat as effectively as possible,” a French Defense Ministry statement said.

The French minister also called on the Russian authorities to stop using the terrorist attack to make accusations against Kyiv and said that Paris has no information that would indicate a connection between the attack and Ukraine.

Russian authorities, including President Vladimir Putin, have claimed without providing evidence that Ukraine could have been involved. Kyiv and its allies categorically reject this, and the United States has said it shared warnings with Russia about a potential terrorist attack.

The ministers also discussed the war in Ukraine, and Lecornu reaffirmed that France condemned it as Russia’s “war of aggression” and said France will continue to support Kyiv, according to the statement.

The call took place at the initiative of France and was the first between the two ministers since October 2022, according to the ministry. There has been no comment from the Russian Defense Ministry.

French President Emmanuel Macron drew a sharp reaction from both Moscow and several of France’s NATO partners last month when he said sending Western troops to Ukraine should not be ruled out.

Macron, warning Western powers against showing any signs of weakness to Russia, said keeping the prospect of sending troops on the table would create a situation of “strategic uncertainty” for Russia.

At the time, Macron, who is commander in chief of his country’s armed forces, declined to describe in which situation France would be ready to send troops, but said, “we’re not in that situation today.”


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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