In the latest confirmation of deteriorating relations between Moscow and the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled a visit to Paris next week after President Francois Hollande said he would see him only for talks on Syria.
Over the weekend, tensions emerged between Moscow and Paris after the Russian UN delegation vetoed a French-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria. French officials' growing anger over a Russian-backed Syrian offensive against rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo had led them to reconsider whether to host Putin on Oct. 19, Reuters reports.
"I made it known to Mr Putin that if he came to Paris, I would not accompany him to any ceremonies, but that I was ready to continue the dialogue on Syria. He decided to postpone the visit," a questuionably hospitable Francois Hollande said earlier at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
The Russian president had been scheduled to inaugurate a new Russian Orthodox cathedral and visit a Russian art exhibition in the French capital on Oct. 19, however that now will not happen as after the US and Russia broke off diplomatic relations regarding Syria, it now appears that France, or at least Hollande, has also joined.
The Kremlin confirmed Putin's decision, but made no mention of Syria and said he was ready to come to Paris at Hollande's convenience.
While Paris has said it is vital to keep dialogue going with Moscow and not sever relations, events in Syria have damaged their ties as the two countries support opposite sides in the conflict. Describing Russian air strikes in Syria as "war crimes", Hollande said it was still necessary to talk with Moscow, but only if discussions were "firm, frank," otherwise it would be a "charade."
Ironically, the latest accusation of Russian 'war crimes", comes a day after Reuters reported that US support of Saudi Arabia's mass killings of innocent civilians in Yemen, means the Obama administration may also be guilty of war crimes.
"With Russia, France has a major disagreement on Syria and the Russian veto of the French resolution at the U.N. Security Council has prevented the cessation of bombings and enablement of a truce," Hollande said at the Council of Europe.
"I'm ready to meet President Putin if we can advance peace, end the bombings and announce a truce," he said.
Since that will not happen, it now appears that France and Russia have all but halted diplomatic relations, at least at the highest level.