Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stood side-by-side with French Economy Minister, Christine Lagarde for a ceremony at the Arc-de-Triomphe in Paris. Their closeness also seemed to signify tighter business links between Moscow and Paris.
The focus of Medvedev’s three day state visit has been on building business with France which, the Kremlin says, is booming, increasing on average by more than 25 percent a year since 2006.
The two leaders oversaw the signing of a new deal between France’s GDF Suez and Russia’s Gazprom over the Nordstream pipeline. From 2012, the planned project will carry 55 billion cubic metres of gas annually from Russia to Germany via the Baltic, bypassing Ukraine and ensuring supplies to Europe. The deal will increase GDF Suez’s gas supplies by ten percent.
Moscow has also agreed to buy four Mistral class helicopter carriers from France, prompting concerns from some NATO members. Construction would also provide much-needed work for France’s ship-building industry.