FFrance's government has appealed to Russia not to exploit the Islamist-motivated terrorist attack near Moscow. Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said on Wednesday evening after a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu that his country had no information about a connection between the attack and Ukraine. The two chief diplomats had spoken to each other on the telephone for the first time in around a year and a half. Lecornu condemned the attack near Moscow and recalled France's willingness to increase exchanges in the fight against terrorism, it was said from Paris.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack two weeks ago in several letters. Western security authorities and experts consider these messages to be credible and assume that the attack was carried out by the IS affiliate Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISPK). The Russian leadership is trying to portray Ukraine as the real mastermind.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lecornu tried to convince the Russian side in a telephone conversation with Shoigu that neither Ukraine nor Western countries were involved in the terrorist attack. The Frenchman shifted responsibility to IS. Shoigu emphasized that the investigation would be completed and all those responsible would be punished.

On March 22, four men unhindered stormed an event center on the outskirts of Moscow that was occupied by thousands of people, fired shots and set a fire. More than 140 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack in Russia in years. Several suspected terrorists and backers are in custody.

Russia insists on suspicion of terrorism against Ukraine

According to Moscow, the Russian side has evidence of a Ukrainian lead in organizing the terrorist attack. “The Kiev regime does nothing without the consent of Western curators. We trust that the French secret services are not behind this case,” Shoigu said. Regarding the possible deployment of French troops to Ukraine, the Russian minister said that this would cause problems for France. According to Russian information, a number of French mercenaries have already died in Ukraine.

According to Paris, Lecornu condemned the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. France will support Ukraine for as long and as intensively as necessary in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty in order to restore peace and security on the European continent.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Shoigu had signaled willingness to engage in dialogue about the future of Ukraine. The basis for this could be the Istanbul peace initiative shortly after the start of the war in spring 2022. At that time, Ukraine was said to have been prepared to forego joining NATO. Shoigu described a peace summit planned by Kiev in Switzerland as pointless because Moscow was not represented there.

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