Emmanel Macron is confident about Russia. He thinks "that we can progress with Russia on a certain number of subjects", declared to the press a senior official of the French presidency, citing "a common interest in the stabilization of Libya and the reunification of its institutions. "
Macron has pursued a policy of rapprochement with Russia in recent months, addressing Putin on key areas of disagreement such as Ukraine, in an approach that has hampered some EU allies. His call with Putin comes amid a conflict between France and Turkey, which Macron accused of playing a "dangerous game" in Libya.
Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the Tripoli-based government repel a year-long assault on eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar. Russia supports Haftar, and France is also suspected of favoring him – although Paris insists that he is neutral in the conflict.
During discussions with Putin, Macron expressed "all concerns that the strengthening of the Turkish presence in Libya," said the official. But the official added that Macron had also discussed with Putin "foreign interference in Libya", including the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner group, a Russian paramilitary organization which is said to be led by a Putin confidant.
According to the Kremlin website, Putin told Macron: "I know your mindset was to organize joint work on many of these topics. We will support your proposals in any way possible." The Kremlin said the two leaders called for a ceasefire in Libya and a return to dialogue.
The French official said that during two hours of talks, Putin also invited Macron to Russia and that the French president agreed, although no date has been set. The visit would probably take place "in the coming months" and "before the end of the year" although the coronavirus crisis must be taken into account, said the official.
The Kremlin also said that Putin had invited "dear Emmanuel" to visit Russia. The French leader had planned to attend events on Red Square last month to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. But the event was canceled following the pandemic, although it later took place – without Macron – in Moscow on Wednesday.