PARIS, Oct. 11 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled a visit to France after French President Francois Hollande‘s suggestion that Moscow is guilty of war crimes in Syria.
The cancellation can be seen a response to diplomatic tension between the two leaders since Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution Saturday, sponsored by France and Spain, calling for an end to Russian-supported Syrian airstrikes on the city of Aleppo and support of allowing humanitarian aid into the city. Before the vote, Hollande told the French television station TF1 he was considering rescinding the invitation to Putin, noting that those behind the bombing of Aleppo committed “war crimes” and should be held accountable to the International Criminal Court.
Putin was expected in Paris next week but the Kremlin confirmed he would not arrive, suggesting the cause was a schedule change of planned events.
“There were some events scheduled, including the opening of a Russian cultural and religious center, exhibitions. Unfortunately, those events were struck off the program, so the president decided to cancel his visit to France for now,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Hollande told TF1 of the planned meeting, “I have asked myself that question: Is it useful? Is it necessary? Could we do something that pushes him as well, and stop what they’re doing with the Syrian regime — that is to say, the help they are providing to the Syrian regime, which sends bombs to the population of Aleppo? If I receive him, I would tell him that it is unacceptable, that it is bad even for the image of Russia. What I tell them, is that these populations are populations that are today victims of war crimes and those who commit those acts will have to pay for their responsibility in front of the International Criminal Court.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed Friday that the airstrikes, often hitting hospitals and civilians, should be regarded as war crimes.