France's Macron dismisses Russian remarks suggesting Kyiv and Paris had a role in Moscow attack

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, speaks to journalists during the inauguration of the Olympic Aquatics Center (CAO) in Saint-Denis, near Paris, Thursday, April 4, 2024. The aquatic center will host the artistic swimming, water polo and diving events during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool via AP)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron dismissed Thursday as “ridiculous” Russia's defense minister's remarks suggesting Ukraine and France could had a role in last month's deadly Moscow concert hall attack.

Macron's comments came a day after a rare phone call between the French and Russian defense ministers that led to diverging media statements afterward.

A statement from the Russian Defense Ministry quoted Sergei Shoigu as telling his French counterpart in regard to the Moscow attack that “the Kyiv regime does nothing without approval of its Western handlers" and “we hope that the French special services weren’t involved in it.”

Macron said such comments “were indeed baroque and threatening, which is nothing new,” as he was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of a swimming pool built for the Paris Olympics in a northern suburb of Paris.

“In other words, it's ridiculous,” Macron added.

“It makes no sense and doesn’t fit with reality” to say that France “could be behind it (the Moscow attack) and that the Ukrainians are behind it,” he said. “But it’s a manipulation of information, which is part of Russia’s arsenal of warfare today.”

France’s defense ministry said in a statement following Wednesday’s phone call that its minister, Sébastien Lecornu, firmly condemned the March 22 attack on a suburban Moscow concert hall that killed 145 in the deadliest assault on Russian soil in decades.

Lecornu “confirmed that France had no information linking this attack to Ukraine," the statement said.

He also condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine and said France would continue to support Kyiv “as long and as intensively as needed,” according to the French defense ministry.

The Russian readout said Shoigu warned France against the possibility of deploying troops to Ukraine in the future, an option that has not been ruled out by Macron.

The call marked the first such contact between Russian and French defense ministers since October 2022.

Macron argued Thursday that it was prompted by France's willingness to share “useful information” on the Moscow attack as part of “joint work with all those who are hit by terrorism."

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his officials have sought to link Ukraine and the West to the attack despite Kyiv’s fierce denial, a claim of responsibility issued by an affiliate of Islamic State group and an advance warning that the U.S. issued to Moscow about an imminent attack.