France cuts counterterrorism cooperation with Russia ahead of Olympics, says Moscow

Paris has suspended all communication in the field of counterterrorism despite previously receiving help from Russia, the Russian ambassador said.

Paris has cut off counterterrorism collaboration with Moscow ahead of the upcoming summer Olympic Games, Russian Ambassador Aleksey Meshkov said in an interview with the French weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

The diplomat made his comments just over two weeks after more than 140 people were killed during a terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue outside Moscow. France, which will host the Summer Olympics this year, raised its terrorism alert level and increased security measures in Paris following the massacre.

The two countries have historically worked together to fight terrorism, Meshkov said. “Recently, however, France has cut off all communication in this field,” the diplomat said. “The facts are undeniable: today, France provides significant support to Ukraine in terms of information exchange, while Ukraine carries out terrorist activities in Russia.”

Ukraine has been engaged in assassinations and sabotage on Russian soil since Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring country in February 2022. Although the jihadist group Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack on Crocus City Hall, Russian investigators say they found evidence pointing to Kiev’s possible involvement.

“A few years ago, Russia shared its expertise on security during the [2014] Sochi Olympics with France. Today, however, the French authorities have set up a special mechanism to work with all accredited foreign embassies in Paris on security matters, but the Russian embassy has not been invited or informed about this initiative,” Meshkov said.

The diplomat promised that Russia will notify Paris if it receives information about a security threat during the Games. Communication will be difficult, however, because the embassy has been “completely cut off from any exchange of information on the preparations for the Olympic Games,” Meshkov stressed. “There is no dialogue with us.”

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that Russia was running a disinformation campaign aimed at undermining the upcoming Games. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the accusation as “absolutely unfounded.”

The relations between the countries remain strained as France continues to be one of the main supporters of Ukraine in Europe. Moscow has repeatedly criticized Paris for sending SCALP-EG cruise missiles and other weapons to Ukraine, and has accused it of allowing French “mercenaries” to fight for Kiev.