On Thursday, May 24, French President Emmanuelle Macron will begin a two-day visit to Russia – the first time as head of state. The visit is timed to his participation in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), where he will meet with Vladimir Putin.
Prior to that, Macron came to Russia in January 2016 as Minister of Economy of France. On the eve of the first anniversary of his election to the presidency, on May 6, Macron, in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche, talked about the goal of his Russian policy – securing Russia in Europe, so as not to allow itself to become locked in itself. For this he is ready for a “strategic historical dialogue” with Putin.
At a briefing for journalists on May 23, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that during the visit the leaders will discuss the development of bilateral relations and the issues of the global agenda: Iran, Syria and Ukraine, and bilateral agreements are expected to be signed, both commercial and interdepartmental.
In the French leadership there is no single direction of Russian policy – for example, the Foreign Ministry takes a tougher stance towards Moscow, and presidential advisers are more moderate – nevertheless, a great interest in Russia in Paris is obvious, told director of the Franco-Russian think tank “Observo” Arno Dubien.
“Preparing for the visit, last week, Macron held a meeting with experts on Russia. Instead of the planned hour, the meeting was two and a half hours, all the while the president listened to analysts, and only then expressed his opinion, “says Dubien.