The Kremlin has rejected claims by French President Emmanuel Macron that Russian President Vladimir Putin "dreams" of breaking up the European Union.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov's denial on September 3 came after the French leader told Swedish public broadcaster SVT in an interview over the weekend that he respected and wanted to work with Putin, despite his alleged malign designs on the EU.
"I do respect Vladimir Putin, and I am one of these leaders saying we need to construct a new security and defense architecture with Russia -- we need this discussion with Russia. But Vladimir Putin's dream is a dismantling of the European Union," Macron told the broadcaster.
Peskov denied any malign intentions toward Europe, however.
"It is in our interests that the EU is prosperous and stable. President Putin has made this approach clear on several occasions and there is no plan to change it," Peskov told journalists in Moscow.
Peskov claimed that the Russian president was working to develop ties with member states and strengthen the union, and added that he also respected Macron.
"With regards to respect, the president answers in kind. He has developed a very constructive working relationship, and good personal relationship" with Macron, Peskov said.
Macron and Putin last met during the World Cup in Russia this summer, when France won the tournament.
Peskov repeated the Kremlin's stance that the significant deterioration of relations between Russia and the West in recent years, particularly since its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, is the result of sanctions imposed on Russia and other tensions stoked by the West.
"In terms of Putin's relationship towards the EU, we unfortunately must argue that it is not Russia's doing if this relationship is in rather a chilly situation," he said.