Paris – French President Francois Hollande is having an active schedule amid a meeting with “White Helmets”, the participation at the summit with German Chancellor and Russian President, the opening statement at the ministerial meeting in Paris about Mosul, and his visit to Brussels for the European summit.
Sources believe that Russia’s decisions to implement the 8-hours ceasefire on Thursday in Aleppo and to stop airstrikes are not pure coincidence, but rather linked to the pressures exerted on Moscow.
French officials believe there are two purposes for the Russian initiative. The first purpose is to “relieve” the Russian President Vladimir Putin during the meeting in Berlin, given that it was not possible to deal with him as if the ceasefire wasn’t happening. While the second purpose of the initiative was a publicity attempt to show how humanitarian Russia is and put the blame on the other party.
French sources also linked the Russian initiative with the military peace talks in Geneva between the Russian and U.S. military teams intended to separate between the fighting factions and Fateh Sham.
French President Francois Hollande said after his meeting with the “White Helmets”, he would do everything possible to try to extend a ceasefire in eastern Aleppo when he discusses Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this evening.
“France will do everything to exert pressure, notably on the allies of the regime – I’m thinking of the Russians – so that the truce can be extended.”
Before Berlin summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lowered the expectations saying that the meeting won’t make any miracles, which was already known given that Berlin, Paris and other European capitals can’t dictate Moscow what to do.
French sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Paris intends to use all possible means to pressure Russia, which will remain political as it is not likely to enforce series economic sanctions currently.
This was revealed during the foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg last week. Yet, Germany began to change its stand when Chancellor Merkel announced that no option should be ruled out in Syria. It sounded similar to what U.S. officials said – that all options are up to discussion, including military ones.
Of the first outcomes of Berlin summit, the reinstated dialogue between Presidents Putin and Hollande, while the second is to send a message to Russian President who is known to have a good relation with German Chancellor.