MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Belief that Russia could be brought down by sanctions is unrealistic and the relationship with Moscow should be restored, the French presidential candidate for The Republicans party and former prime minister said in an exclusive interview to Le Monde newspaper.
"It is an enormous country that we cannot treat flippantly… Thinking that we can break down the Russians by imposing economic sanctions is naive. Our relationship with Russia should be rebuilt," Fillon said, as quoted by the newspaper on Sunday.
The presidential candidate reportedly added that this restoration would have to be tied to the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine and Kiev, like Moscow, would have to respect the Minsk agreements.
"Secondly, we need a new economic partnership with Russia. Finally, I propose a European-Russian conference on the conditions of security in Europe," Fillon was quoted as saying.
The European Union and the United States imposed a series of sanctions on Russia over its alleged involvement in the conflict between Kiev and the militia in the east of Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations.
The French presidential elections will take part on April 23, with the run-off scheduled for May 7, and Fillon will face Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, former Minister of the Economy Emmanuel Macron running as the candidate from self-founded En Marche Party, Jean-Luc Melenchon as another independent candidate and either Benoit Hamon or Manuel Valls from the Socialist Party.
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