French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to shed light on the “attempted murder” of opposition figure Alexei Navalny after French tests confirmed the use of the nerve agent Novichok, the Elysee said.
Macron told Putin on phone calls that “it is imperative to immediately shed all light on the circumstances of this attempted murder and who is responsible,” the French presidency said in a statement.
He also informed Putin that France’s own analysis had confirmed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent “in contravention of international standards for the use of chemical weapons.”
The German government had previously said laboratories in France and Sweden confirmed their own findings that Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
Macron has pursued a policy of rapprochement with Russia over the past year and sought progress in ending the conflict in Ukraine, a strategy that raised the eyebrows of some of France’s EU allies.
But analysts say the poisoning of Navalny, who is still being treated in Germany after his illness last month on a flight in Siberia, has dealt a severe blow to Moscow-Paris relations.
From the start of the crisis, France has supported the harsh language of its ally Germany, who warned that suspicion of the poisoning would fall on the Russian state unless Moscow explains what happened.
According to Elysee, Macron “expressed its full solidarity with Germany on the steps to be taken and the resulting consequences” on Monday.
“Russia needs to provide clarity through a credible and transparent investigation,” he added.
Macron and Putin also discussed the situation in Russia’s smaller neighbor with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday in Russia for the first time since the outbreak of protests against his controversial election victory last month.
Macron told Putin, who was supposed to meet Lukashenko in the southern Russian resort of Sochi, that foreign interference in the crisis was undesirable.
“He (Macron) reiterated the need to support a political solution that respects the deep aspirations of the Belarusian people without outside interference,” the Elysee said.