French President Emmanuel Macron did not mince words during his joint news conference Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which he labeled Russian state media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik “agents of influence and propaganda.”
“I have always had an exemplary relationship with foreign journalists, but they have to be journalists,” Macron said Monday at the Palace of Versailles, adding that “Russia Today and Sputnik were agents of influence and propaganda that spread falsehoods about me and my campaign.”
The remarks, which were made during the leaders’s first face-to-face visit, comes at a time of fraught relations between Paris and Moscow—particularly due to their differences over the six-year Syrian civil war, in which they back opposing sides. Despite these differences, however, the two leaders said they took part in a “frank, sincere dialogue” and expressed their willingness to pursue their shared priority of combatting terrorism and maintaining stability in Syria.
“Failed states in that region of the world are a threat to our democracies and as we’ve seen in every case they have led to the growth of terrorist groups,” Macron said, adding that while France would seek stability and a democratic transition of power in Syria, it would also draw a “very clear red line” at chemical weapons, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been accused of using.