"In the same vein, in his address at MGIMO, Nicolas Sarkozy carefully listed all the points of convergence between Vladimir Putin and himself:
he was the first to call for the lifting of sanctions against Russia, in opposition to Hollande, putting him in the camp with those who in Europe, such as Hungary, Greece and Italy, wish to abandon the tough stance taken on Moscow led by Poland, the Baltic states and supported by Berlin."
"The former president also called for a united front of Europe, Russia and America against international jihadism: having the same enemies, suffering the same threats and being exposed to the same global risks, France and Russia are natural allies on the international scene."
"In short, the French leader seems to align with the long term positions defended by the Russian presidency and proclaimed on September 28 2015 at the UN podium by Vladimir Putin."
Some in France are cautious that Nicolas Sarkozy's possible victory in the 2017 French Presidential elections might signify a change to the country’s strategy.
"With his trip to Moscow, Nicolas Sarkozy is sending a signal to the most conservative wing of his party. The fight for Christian values and traditional values, the fight against terrorism and illegal migration, promoting a strong state and an uninhibited patriotism…These are all the elements that the future candidate receives in Moscow, benefiting from the aura of the Russian president."
However, the magazine notes, Nicolas Sarkozy has preserved, despite appearances, several "pretexts" of French diplomacy from the past decade: the continued rule of Bashar al-Assad, officially supported by Russian authorities, is an "obstacle to the resolution Syrian political crisis."
"In addition, it is both possible and necessary to distinguish, within the Syrian opposition, between moderates and radicals, contrary to the arguments advanced by the Russian President who said this is a vain distinction at the recent meeting of the Valdai Club in Sochi by deleting the notion of a "moderate terrorism."
Finally, the idea of regime change (the neocon regime change as reviled by the Russian President) is considered a necessity by the former French president.
All the above allows the authors to suppose that there are fundamental disagreements between the two leaders despite an abundance of common ground.
Finally, the sanction regime is not just at the discretion of Paris to make: a newly elected French president may well be able to argue a case, but certainly the decision is not his alone to take amongst his European partners.
However, in the final outcome, for Moscow, Nicolas Sarkozy does not offer an alternative to Francois Hollande's existing policy on Russia. While following in the traditional patterns of French opposition leaders abroad, which involves scoring some political points against the existing French president through cozying up to Putin, under Sarkozy, France is likely to maintain its existing political path meaning that the strengthening of Franco-Russian ties remains unlikely.