NEWS BRIEF Russian President Vladimir Putin has canceled an upcoming trip to France over Francois Hollande’s remarks that he would use the visit to discuss Moscow’s actions in Syria.
“There were some events scheduled, including the opening of a Russian cultural and religious center, [and] exhibitions,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said. “Unfortunately, those events were struck off the program, so the president decided to cancel his visit to France for now.”
Tensions between the two countries have risen over the past few days over Russia’s military support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his campaign to wrest the eastern portion of Aleppo from the rebels. The recapture of the divided city would mark a major turning point in the Syrian civil war, as eastern Aleppo is the last major rebel redoubt. Western nations and monitoring groups say Russia and Syria have carried out airstrikes targeting civilian centers, hospitals, and humanitarian convoys in Aleppo, killing dozens; Russia denies those charges, saying it’s targeting terrorists, a catchall term used by the Assad regime to describe all rebel groups. Last week, the U.S., whose ties with Moscow are perhaps at their lowest point since the height of the Cold War, accused Russia of war crimes in Syria. Hollande echoed those remarks on Monday.