05:43 GMT23 January 2021
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    The recent joint strikes by the US, UK and France against Syria and the hysteria over the Skripal case have marked yet another episode in the downward spiral of West-Russia relations. Sputnik discussed these issues with the General Secretary of the French National Front and member of the European parliament, Nicolas Bay.

    Commenting on France's decision to join the US and UK in their recent strikes against Syria, Nicolas Bay said France has abandoned its "political and diplomatic tradition" and sent a signal that hurts the French people, European nations and Syria itself.

    "France has given in to the urge to engage in war for show, the effectiveness of which is close to zero — a fact that France has itself admitted. Its only goal was to label Bashar Assad an enemy," Nicolas Bay said.

    The member of the European parliament is confident that countries nowadays must consider the final extermination of the Daesh* and other Islamist groups, "especially those supported by Saudi Arabia", to be their priority. He suggested teaming up with Russia and Syria in order to achieve this goal, while actions like the recent attack on Syria will only allow such groups to successfully continue their activities.

    READ MORE: Lavrov: US Has No Plans to Leave Syria, Positioning Itself on Euphrates Bank

    Commenting on the possibility that extremists can create, with support from the US, an autonomous region in the southern part of Syria, Nicolas Bay said that it might actually happen, even if the US didn't originally plan such move. According to him, only Daesh and other jihadists benefit from Western strikes on Syria, which allow them to prosper and get settled down in the country — all this as a result of the policy conducted by the US.

    The European MP also noted that France's position on Russia is quite controversial —first it expresses willingness to restore relations with Moscow and in the next moment it supports the US position on Syria. According to him, this creates a feeling of "a total mess and inconsistency" in French policy, affecting the country's image. He believes France must pursue its national own interest above anything else in its foreign policy.

    "Instead of looking at problems of Middle Eastern countries through the prism of moral issues with the existing regimes, it is worth considering the interests of our nations," Nicolas Bay said.

    He brought up the case of Libya as an example showing that the French intervention was neither in its (having prompted the wave of mass migration to Europe), nor in the North African state's interests, as only Islamists have benefited from the situation. Nicolas Bay believes the same is true for Syria today.

    READ MORE: Trump, Macron Agree to Continue Joint Anti-Daesh Fight After Strikes on Syria

    The US, UK and France conducted airstrikes against Syria on April 14, 2018. The countries claimed that they attacked purported chemical weapons production sites in retaliation for the alleged chemical attack in Douma, which Western countries have blamed Assad for. The attack was reported by the White Helmets NGO, known for its ties with terrorist groups. Russian experts found no signs of a chemical attack at the site. OPCW experts are currently investigating the issue.

    Skripal Case 'is a Cold War Logic'

    Speaking about the Skripal case, Nicolas Bay noted that prominent European countries have made harsh statements, despite a proper investigation not having been conducted, looking like the Cold War logic in regards to Russia.

    He believes that it is in France's interest to reduce tensions with Moscow. According to him, France should take a "balanced position" in relations between Russia, European countries and the US.

    READ MORE: Moscow Recommends That London Not Rush to Destroy Evidence in Skripal Case

    Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found in critical condition in the British city of Salisbury in March after having been poisoned. The UK's prime minister has accused Russia of allegedly using an A-234 nerve agent against the Skripals, although an official investigation hasn't been conducted. Russia has denied all accusations and demanded access to its citizens and materials of the investigation. The UK has rejected all these requests and expelled a number of Russian diplomats — a move later mirrored by the US and several other EU members.

    'States Are Not Willing to Be Victims of Sanctions Against Russia'

    The EU parliamentarian is confident that none of the countries want to be a victim of the anti-Russian sanctions. He believes that the situation in Syria has little to do with sanctions and that for many countries that, like Germany, want to protect their interests it will not be an obstacle for the gradual lifting of the sanctions regime.

    READ MORE: LISTEN as OPCW Chief Allegedly Admits Skripal Poison Could Be Made Anywhere

    Nicolas Bay thinks that for sanctions to be removed, this question must constantly be on the agenda.

    "We in France are going to raise this question in the European parliament. We will speak about the fact that anti-Russian sanctions and its retaliatory embargo significantly hurt the economies of Central and Western Europe," he said.

    The European lawmaker believes that Russia has the right to impose countersanctions and noted that it has significantly affected large agricultural countries, like France.

    "…a Cold War with Russia won't allow us to defend our interests. I believe that one day we will realize that," Nicolas Bay said.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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