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French press review 2 October 2015


As Russian aircraft continue to bomb targets in Syria, and a conference opens in Paris to assess the progress of peace in Ukraine, it's not too surprising to find Russian President Vladimir Putin on most of this morning's front pages. None of the commentators are impressed, and some are downright apocalyptic.


Russian President Vladimir Putin is the man in the news.

Catholic La Croix looks at the way the Russian leader is imposing his own tempo on the ground in Syria and Ukraine. This as a four-nation summit opens here in Paris with a view to resolving the question of how much of the former soviet state will be allowed to annex.

At the same time, the western allies have to keep an eye on Russian jets over Syria, ostensibly there to help in the fight against the fundamentalists of the Islamic State armed group, but widely suspected of bombing those fighting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Right-wing Le Figaro says Iran is now ready to send ground troops into Syria, where they will fight alongside the Lebanese Hezbollah, both supporting the Syrian government.

Left-leaning Libération asks what exactly Putin is trying to achieve. Is he simply supporting his strategic ally Assad and ensuring a safe harbour for Moscow's Mediterranean fleet, or indicating his determination to take on the West? Le Monde suggests that, in fact, Damascus is seen as the key element in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, with Bashar al-Assad in control, a situation which Washington is going to find hard to accept.

Libé points out that Putin is taking a big chance, since he has little real knowledge of a region from which Moscow has been diplomatically absent for several decades, has no popular support for a dubious military adventure, and has to worry about the reaction of local Islamist terrorists.

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Le Monde's main headline speaks of Syria as a "Russian trap," saying it is clear that Moscow is fighting on behalf of Assad, an alignment which won't make the resolution of the Syrian conflict any easier. Several analysts point to the short-term boost which Russian intervention is likely to give to the recruitment campaigns of groups like the Islamic State group and Al Nusra Front. And several raise the spectre of another Afghanistan, where Soviet military might lost out in the 1980s to local Mujahadeen insurgents, leaving a mess which has never since been properly sorted out.

There's good news and bad news on the climate front. This is in Le Monde.

The good news is that 141 countries have confirmed to the United Nations climate watchdog that they are on track to get their greenhouse gas emissions down to the level that will keep global warming at or about 2°C between now and 2030. India, which accounts for 6 per cent of all air pollution, was expected to join the club later on Friday. That will mean that 142 countries are likely to meet the limits set at the 2013 Lima climate conference, confirmed in Warsaw last year, and due to be turned into a binding global deal here in Paris in December.

Which brings us to the bad news.

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The Nicolas Hulot Foundation has looked at the figures and finds that we're still going to dump 55 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere between now and 2030, at least six billion more than the upper limit set by the climate experts of the intergovernmental working group.

The Climate Action Tracker, a group of European scientific bodies which looks at the impact of promises on actual emissions says we're looking good to keep global warming below 3°C, but have no chance of reaching the crucial 2°C mark unless national levels are revised drastically downwards. Expect hot debate between now and the Paris conference!

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