Russia ‘isolated’ due to Syria stance: Juppé

France warned on Thursday that Russia's refusal to support efforts to put pressure on Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime was plunging Moscow deeper into international isolation on the issue.

Russia 'isolated' due to Syria stance: Juppé

“I regret that Russia continues to lock itself into a vision that isolates it more and more, not just from the Arab world but also from the international community,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppé told journalists.

Juppé was speaking ahead of talks in Paris with around 13 fellow foreign ministers from countries backing tougher action against Assad, and regretted that his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov would not be present.

“I personally invited Mr Lavrov to come,” he said.

With Russian opposition preventing the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Assad, an ad hoc group of states who dub themselves the “Friends of Syria” are examining other options.

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday that these could include the imposition of humanitarian corridors within Syria in order to get aid to beleaguered opposition bastions.

Juppé said the Paris meeting would also discuss boosting the number of UN monitors on the ground overseeing a theoretical ceasefire, which Assad has vowed to respect under a UN and Arab League peace plan.

“The regime is not living up to its undertakings. The ceasefire is not being respected,” Juppé said.

“Can we deploy an effective observer force on the ground, which would have numbers? We’d need at least 300 to 400 robust, well-equipped observers with the means to travel around the country,” he said.

“Our second objective: if that is not possible within a certain timeframe, what other measures or initiatives can we take to end the massacre.”

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Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia

A senior French military officer stationed at a NATO base has been indicted and jailed on suspicion of spying for Russia, local media and sources said on Sunday.

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia
A change of command ceremony at the base of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force in Sigonella, Italy. It is not known at which Italian Nato base the officer was stationed. Photo: Falk Plankenhorn
The French army officer was stationed abroad, a judicial source said confirming details from Europe 1 radio. According to the report, the soldier was stationed on a NATO base in Italy and is suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia.
The French government confirmed it was investigating a senior military officer over a “security breach”.
“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper. She gave no further details.
The judicial source said the officer had been indicted and jailed on charges involving “intelligence with a foreign power that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation”.
He is being prosecuted for “delivering information to a foreign power”, “collecting information harming the fundamental interests of the nation with a view to delivering them to a foreign power” and “compromising the secrecy of national defence”, the source said.
Europe 1 said the officer was a lieutenant-colonel stationed with NATO in Italy and had been placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia.
He speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence
service, the report said. It said he is suspected of having supplied sensitive documents to Russian intelligence.
The man was arrested by DGSI intelligence service as he was about to leave for Italy at the end of his holidays in France, and is being held at a prison in Paris, Europe 1 said.