The French president has made a serious mistake in allowing Russia to distribute French aid

On 21 July a Russian military Antonov cargo plane landed on an airstrip in Châteauroux, central France. It was loaded with 50 tonnes of humanitarian aid – medical supplies, tents – and flew to Russia’s Khmeimim military base in Syria. This is a stronghold from which Vladimir Putin’s forces have launched relentless attacks on cities and neighbourhoods since 2015, as they threw their military might behind Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime.

In many ways, this was the moment Emmanuel Macron sold his soul to Putin in Syria. But this awkward mission wasn’t just about France’s image. The entire episode said something about a wider western malaise; about how democracies can too readily sacrifice principles and how authoritarian regimes capitalise on that weakness.

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Read More Macron and the west must not play along with Putin’s Syria endgame | Natalie Nougayrède

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