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‘Sanctions against Russia a counterproductive American game’

A French delegation visiting Russia to forge dialogue between Moscow and Paris has urged that sanctions be lifted in July. Meanwhile, France’s National Front’s foreign affairs advisor told RT that sanctions are an ‘unproductive game played by the US.’

READ MORE: EU rules out automatic extension of anti-Russia sanctions

National Assembly Member, Thierry Mariani, led a delegation of 20 French politicians to the Russian capital. The MPs arrived in Moscow on Thursday following an invitation from State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin. During the visit, policymakers slammed EU sanctions against Russia, with Mariani saying, “Sanctions are silly. Sanction politics are not yielding any positive results.”

The Vice-President of the left leaning Citizen and Republican Movement, Marie-Francoise Bechtel criticized the US for being selfish in its policies. “America doesn’t care, it likes slapping on sanctions. We are the ones who suffer. We must be independent from US politics.”

French lawmakers labelled their trip as a friendship gesture, with similar signals coming from other European governments, who are seeking to mend ties with Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Belgian Foreign Minister, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe Didier Reynders meet in Moscow.(RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich)

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, who visited Moscow earlier this week and met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov said, “We are ready to build new relations in short-term and long-term periods to tackle crises.”

Meanwhile, RT spoke with Aymeric Chauprade, who is the Foreign Affairs Advisor of Marine Le Pen’s National Front, which has long spoken in favor of France’s alliance with Russia.

RT:Why does the French National Front believe Paris should have closer ties with Moscow?

Aymeric Chauprade: We believe we need a balance in Europe. We need a very good relationship with Russia, not only between France and Russia, but between all the European countries and Russia. It is a question of peace. It is a question of stability and that is a reason why we completely refuse the US game in Europe that consists of putting the pressure on Russia regarding Ukraine. It was a counterproductive [game]. The result is a loss of $21 billion worth of trade because of the sanctions against Russia. It is an economic disaster and we have severed the relationship with Russia, so we [need] to rebuild and find a new, smart policy with Russia.

Reuters / Vincent Kessler

RT:A group of French lawmakers visited Moscow today, talking of the need for dialogue and criticizing sanctions. How likely is it that they can sway Paris?

READ MORE: Russia sanctions 'must be lifted now' - Hollande

AC: I appreciate what they did. Even though they are political opponents, they are doing something very right, trying to improve the relationship, to repair it. But, the problem is they are not representing the majority of their parties. There is only one party in France – National Front – which tries to really set a good and stable relationship with Russia.

At the European Parliament all these members are voting against Russia to increase the sanctions. Fortunately things are changing. People are starting to think.

RT:A member of the National Assembly, Thierry Mariani, said he hopes sanctions against Russia will be lifted by July. Is that a realistic target?

AC: He is doing a good job. He is saying for example that we have 1,200 French and Russian companies in Russia. We have a lot of interest. We have jobs, we have technological investment. There is a good point in the evolution because we have more and more countries in Europe like Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and also like France, which think that we do not have to extend the sanctions in July. We should decide to stop these stupid sanctions that are completely counterproductive for European interests.

READ MORE: Sanctions against Russia are ‘economic weapon’ that targets French business