French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday he wants to strengthen Paris’s cooperation with Moscow to tackle terrorism, adding that Moscow must abide by European sanctions on the country.
“We are not a blank check for Russia,” Macron told a news conference after a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We must do our part to combat terrorism.”
The Kremlin on Friday condemned Macron’s statement and accused him of “blatant interference in domestic affairs”.
“It is completely irresponsible of the president of the republic to comment on the activities of the Russian Federation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement.
The comments were the first official comments by Macron since a summit between the two leaders in November, in which Macron said he would push to “strengthen and deepen” a bilateral dialogue between the allies.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also said that France’s “strategic role” in the EU is under threat.
Macron has said he wants France to be a “blessed nation” in Russia, but has repeatedly stressed that the two sides must be able to cooperate on counter-terrorism.
The Russian leader has accused France of supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is fighting Turkish forces in Syria and is considered a terrorist organisation by the US.
“France is not an enemy of Russia.
Our partnership with Russia will remain strong and robust,” Macron said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it has taken “active measures” against the French government for “preventing the cooperation between the Russian and French foreign ministries”.
“The French foreign ministry has also requested to be informed of the latest developments concerning Russia’s actions in Syria,” the ministry said in its statement.
“We do not want any surprises or any new developments regarding the current situation in Syria.”
Macron said he wanted the US to make clear to Russia that it is “in danger of becoming a target of the United States”.
“We cannot be afraid of the US,” he said.
“The US has to know that the US will not tolerate any interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Macrons visit comes amid growing concern in the West over the risk that Russia could use military action in the Ukraine to push its interests.