According to a 2017 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 36% of French people have a favorable view of Russia, with 62% expressing an unfavorable view. A 2018 opinion poll published by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center shows that 81% of Russians have a favorable view of France, with 19% expressing a negative opinion.
Russian-French relations have a long history. An early contact came in 1051, when Anne of Kiev, daughter of Grand Prince of Kiev Yaroslav I the Wise, married Henry I of France. Anne became regent of France for a time after Henry's death and the accession of their eight-year-old son Philip I of France.
The feudal fragmentation established in the XII century in Russia and the Tatar-Mongol invasion in the XIII century prevented the establishment of permanent Russian-French relations at that time. In 1413, the Flemish knight, politician and diplomat Gilbert de Lannoy (Guillebert de Lannoy) visited Veliky Novgorod and Pskov, who participated in the war of the Teutonic Order with Poland and included a description of the Russian lands in his travels and embassies (Voyages et ambassades, 1399-- 1450).
Due to the fact that the Russian centralized state formed in the XV-XVI centuries almost constantly was in a state of diplomatic and military confrontation with the Commonwealth, a significant part of the ruling elite of which traditionally focused on France, the Catholic rulers of the latter for a long time avoided establishing direct diplomatic contacts with Moscow .
Real interest in Russia appeared in France only after the publication in 1607 of the work of Huguenot mercenary Jacques Margeret "The State of the Russian State and the Grand Duchy of Moscow", which information was used in the "History of his time" (1620) by the famous historian Jacques Augus de Tu (1553-- 1617).
In 1615, the embassy of Ivan Kondyrev was adopted at the court of Louis XIII, which ended in failure, but laid the foundation for diplomatic relations between Russia and France.
In the summer of 1668, the Russian embassy headed by the steward P. Potemkin, who had an audience with Louis XIV and Colbert and discussed the establishment of mutually beneficial trade relations between the two countries, traveled from Spain to Paris.
The first diplomatic representation of Russia in France appeared in 1702 by decree of Peter I, interested in an alliance with Louis XIV due to the rapprochement between England and Sweden. A visit to France by Peter I himself in 1717 served as the starting point for the establishment of permanent diplomatic relations between the two countries, interrupted only by the Great French Revolution.
Concerned about the dominance of the Germans at the court of Empress Anna Ioannovna (1730-1740), French diplomacy actively promoted the palace coup of 1741 and the enthronement of Elizabeth Petrovna, who from her youth sympathized with France and her king Louis XV, for whom she was unsuccessfully tried to marry. An active role was played by the Marquis de la Scheetardi, who served as diplomatic envoy to the Russian court in 1739-1744. However, after the efforts of Chancellor Bestuzhev, the close of de la Châteardie, Count Loestock fell into disgrace, in 1748, the influence of the pro-French party weakened noticeably.
Franco-Russian diplomatic ties go back at least to 1702, when France had an ambassador (Jean-Casimir Baluze) in Moscow. Following Russia's victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War of 1700 to 1721, the foundation of Saint Petersburg as the new Russian capital in 1712, and Peter the Great's declaration of the Russian Empire in 1721, Russia became a major force in Western European affairs for the first time. The geographical separation between France and Russia meant that their spheres of influence rarely overlapped. When involved in the same war, their troops rarely fought together as allies or directly against each other as enemies on the same battlefields. However, each state played a crucial role in the European balance of power. The two countries' armed forces fought on opposite sides in the 1733-1738 War of the Polish Succession and in the 1740-1748 War of the Austrian Succession; they were allies against Prussia during the Seven Years' War of 1756 to 1763.
Russia played a complex role in the Napoleonic wars. Russia fought against France in the War of the Second Coalition. Once Napoleon Bonaparte (later Emperor Napoleon I) came to power in 1799, Russia remained hostile and fought in the Wars of the Third and Fourth Coalitions, which were victories for France and saw French power extend into Central Europe. This led to the establishment of a French-backed Polish state, the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807, which threatened Russia and caused tensions that led to the French invasion of Russia in 1812. This was a major defeat for France and a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, leading to Bonaparte's abdication and the Bourbon Restoration. Russia played a central role in defeating Napoleon in 1814. At the Vienna Congress of 1814-15, Russia played a major diplomatic role as a leader of the conservative, anti-revolutionary forces. This suited the Bourbon kings who again ruled France. Russia was a leader of the conservative Concert of Europe which sought to stifle revolution.
Russia was again hostile when the Revolutions of 1848 broke out across Europe, bringing Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (later Emperor Napoleon III) to power in France. Napoleon III favoured a "policy of nationalities" (principe des nationalités) or support to national revolutions in multinational countries like Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, something fervently opposed by the Tsarist regime in Russia. France's challenges to Russia's influence led France to participate in the Crimean War, which saw French troops invade the Crimean peninsula. The war ended in Russia's defeat.
French Emperor Napoleon III tried hard to reach a friendly entente with Russia, and succeeded in so doing with a secret treaty signed in March 1859. The treaty stated in article 1: "in case of war of Piedmont and France against Austria, the Emperor Alexander will, from the moment of the declaration of war, adopt a political and military position most clearly demonstrating his benevolent neutrality towards France." A. J. P. Taylor says the 1859 treaty, "was a triumph for Napoleon; and indeed it alone made possible the liberation of Italy". However, when revolt in Poland broke out in 1863, France sent a series of notes to Russia demanding reforms and ended the 1859 entente. In Prussia, Otto von Bismarck took a friendly position toward Russia on Poland and other issues, and made sure that when war broke out between France and the German states in 1870, Russia was neutral, as was every other power.
Imperial Russia's foreign policy was hostile to republican France in the 19th century and very pro-German. The First and Second Three Emperor's Leagues of the 1870s and 1880s-which brought together Germany, Austria and Russia-had as its stated purpose the preservation of the monarchical order in Europe against the France of the Third Republic. After the defeat in the Franco-German war of 1870-71, French elites concluded that France could never hope to defeat Germany on its own, and the way to defeat the Reich would be with the help of another great power.Otto von Bismarck drew the same conclusion and worked hard to keep France diplomatically isolated.
France was deeply split between the monarchists on one side, and the Republicans on the other. The Republicans at first don't welcome any alliance with Russia. Russia and France have different position on almost international affairs at that time. At a time when French Republicans were rallying in the Dreyfus affair against anti-Semitism, Russia was the most notorious center in the world of anti-Semitic outrages, including multiple murderous large-scale pogroms against the Jews. On the other hand, France was increasingly frustrated by Bismarck's success in isolating it diplomatically. France had issues with Italy, which was allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance. Paris made a few overtures to Berlin, but they were rebuffed, and after 1900 there was a threat of war between France and Germany over Germany's attempt to deny French expansion into Morocco. Great Britain was still in its "splendid isolation" mode and after a major agreement in 1890 with Germany, it seemed especially favorable toward Berlin. By 1892, Russia was the only opportunity for France to break out of its diplomatic isolation. Russia had been allied with Germany when Kaiser Wilhelm II dismissed Bismarck in 1890 and ended the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1892. Russia was alone diplomatically and like France, it needed a military alliance to contain the threat of Germany's strong army and military aggressiveness. The pope, angered by German anti-Catholicism, worked diplomatically to bring Paris and St. Petersburg together. Russia desperately needed money for the completion of railways and ports. The German government refused to allow its banks to lend money to Russia, but French banks did so eagerly. For example, it funded the essential trans-Siberian railway. Rejected by Germany, Russia cautiously began a policy of rapprochement with France starting in 1891 while the French for their part were very interested in the Russian offers of an alliance.
In August 1891, France and Russia signed a "consultative pact" where both nations agreed to consult each other if another power were to threaten the peace of Europe. Negotiations were increasingly successful, and in early 1894 France and Russia agreed to the Franco-Russian Alliance, a military pledge to join together in war if Germany attacked either of them. The alliance was intended to deter Germany from going to war by presenting it with the threat of a two-front war; neither France or Russia could hope to defeat Germany on its own, but their combined power might do so. France had finally escaped its diplomatic isolation. The alliance was secret until 1897, when the French government realized that secrecy was defeating its deterrent value. After France was humiliated by Britain in the Fashoda Incident of 1898, the French wanted the alliance to become an anti-British alliance. In 1900, the alliance was amended to name Great Britain as a threat and stipulated that should Britain attack France, Russia would invade India. The French provided a loan so that the Russians could start the construction of a railroad from Orenburg to Tashkent. Tashkent in its turn would be the base from which the Russians would invade Afghanistan as the prelude to invading India.
In 1902, Japan formed a military alliance with Britain, which built up an Anglo-Japanese alliance. In response, Russia worked with France in order to renege on agreements to reduce troop strength in Manchuria. On March 16, 1902, a mutual pact was signed between France and Russia. Japan later fought Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. France remained neutral in this conflict.
In 1908-09 during the Bosnian crisis, France declined to support Russia against Austria and Germany . The lack of French interest in supporting Russia during the Bosnia crisis was the low point of Franco-Russian relations with the Emperor Nicholas II making no effort to hide his disgust at the lack of support from what was supposed to be his number one ally. Nicholas seriously considered abrogating the alliance with France, and was only stopped by the lack of an alternative. Further linking France and Russia together was a common economic interests. Russia wished to industrialize, but lacked the capital to do so while the French were more than prepared to lend the necessary money to finance Russia's industrialisation. By 1913, French investors had invested 12 billion francs into Russian assets, making the French the largest investors in the Russian empire. The industrialisation of the Russian Empire was partially the result of a massive influx of French capital into the country.
The Bolsheviks opted for peace with Germany in 1917 and refused to recognize the czarist loans. In December 1917 France broke relations and Supported the anti-Bolshevik cause. It supported the White Guard in the Civil War, and supported Poland in the war of 1920. The operations failed, and France switched from a diplomacy of opposition to one of containment of communism, with sharply reduced contacts. French communist continue to visit Moscow, and promote communism in France, but there was no official presence. By 1924, Comintern efforts to overthrow capitalism had failed, and the New Economic Policy met the Soviets were eager for international trade. As a result, the Herriot government in Paris officially recognized the Soviet Union, leading to a rapid growth of commercial and cultural exchanges. Soviet artists were welcomed in Paris, especially Maxim Gorky and Ilya Ehrenburg, In turn, Moscow honored leading French artists.
Soviet diplomats in France sought a military alliance with France in the early 1930s, but the French were distrustful of the Soviets. The rapid growth of power in Nazi Germany encouraged both Paris and Moscow to form a military alliance, and a weak one was signed in May 1935. A firm believer in collective security, Stalin's foreign minister Maxim Litvinov worked very hard to form a closer relationship with France and Britain. In 1939 French and British diplomats tried to form a military alliance with Moscow, but the Germans offered much better terms. The Soviet-German pact of August 1939 indicated Moscow's decisive break with Paris, as it became an economic ally of Germany.
When Germany invaded the USSR in 1941 Charles de Gaulle emphasized that Free France supported the USSR. In December 1944, de Gaulle went to Moscow; The two nations signed a treaty of alliance and mutual assistance. The treaty was finally renounced in 1955, long after the Cold War had begun.
Stalin thought France was no longer a great power so de Gaulle had to make concessions to Stalin to obtain Soviet support against Anglo-Saxon dominance. There was a hope of making France a bridge between the Soviets and the Anglo-Americans. All of the Big Three refused to pretend that France was a power again, so it was not invited to the decisive Yalta conference in February 1945, which was humiliating. The emerging Cold War produced new tensions. When de Gaulle became the French leader in 1945, he put communists in minor roles in his government, blocking them from key positions such as a home office, the foreign office, and the war office. Furthermore, the successful Communist efforts to seize power in Poland, directed by Stalin, were worrisome to the French. With Roosevelt replaced by Harry Truman, France increasingly turned to the American presence in Western Europe to maintain balance of power.
The Communist Party was a strong political influence in France, and was under the direction of the Kremlin. It drew support from certain labor unions, from veterans of the anti-Nazi resistance, and from artists and intellectuals. Communists emphasized anti-Americanism, to win support in the artistic and cultural communities. Pablo Picasso was an outspoken anti-American communist. In 1947 the French Communist Party was at its height, and there was speculation it might come to power. However the Soviet strong-arm tactics and Eastern Europe, combined with strong opposition from key few French government officials, broke the power of the Party and sent it into a downward spiral.
Decolonisation of the French colonial empire gave Moscow the opportunity to provide propaganda support for the anti-colonial fighters, as well as weapons, especially in Algeria and Vietnam. this angered French moderates.
Despite the pressure from the left, the Fourth Republic had more urgent concerns regarding relations with Germany, and economy supported by Marshall plan money, fears of communist subversion in the colonial empire, and American support for the anti-communist war in Vietnam. Official government policy supported the United States and NATO. When de Gaulle returned to power 1958, relations with Moscow improved. De Gaulle did not trust the United States to use nuclear weapons in defense of France, so it built its own. To enhance France's global prestige, it tried to be a broker between Moscow and Washington.
In May 1960, de Gaulle hosted a summit in Paris between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and NATO leaders. The summit worked poorly. De Gaulle then moved away from NATO to concentrate more on Europe as an independent actor. He reduced reliance on the American military because the Cold War was heating up between Washington and Moscow. France never officially left NATO, but de Gaulle sharply reduced its military commitment In the 1960s.
Relations were badly hurt by Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, And the rejection of communism by numerous artists and intellectuals. However, the emergence of Eurocommunism made détente possible in the 1970s. Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev made a visit to France in October 1985 in order to fix the strains in the Franco-Soviet relations. Nevertheless, France's bilateral activities continued with NATO, which made close deals with Communist USSR impossible.
The USSR disintegrated in 1991 and Communism collapsed in France and across Europe. Bilateral relations between France and Russia never became warm. On February 7, 1992 France signed a bilateral treaty, recognizing Russia as a successor of the USSR. As described by the Paris the bilateral relations between France and Russia remain longstanding, and remain strong to this day.
During the 2008 Georgia-Russia War, Sarkozy did not insist on territorial integrity of Georgia. Moreover, there were no French protests when Russia failed to obey Sarkozy's deal to withdraw from Georgia and recognizing governments in Georgia's territories.
One of the major news has been the sale of Mistral class amphibious assault ships to Russia. The deal which was signed at 2010, is the first major arms deal between Russia and the Western world since World War II. The deal has been criticized for neglecting the security interests of Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Georgia.
Before Syrian Civil War, Franco-Russian relations were generally improving. After years flailing behind Germany and Italy, France decided to copy them by emphasising the bilateral relationship. Ever since the financial crisis took hold, European powers have been forced to court emerging markets more and Moscow meanwhile wanted to diversify its own economy. President Hollande summed up the attitude towards what some said Putin's repressive array of new laws during his first official visit to Moscow in February 2013: "I do not have to judge, I do not have to evaluate".
France and Russia were both attacked by the Middle-Eastern Islamist group ISIS. As a response, François Hollande and Vladimir Putin agreed on ordering their respective armed forces to "cooperate" with one another in the fight against the terrorist organization. The French President has called upon the international community to bring "together of all those who can realistically fight against this terrorist army in a large and unique coalition." The French-Russian bombing cooperation is considered to be an "unprecedented" move, given that France is a member of NATO.
The French press highlighted that ISIS is the first common enemy that France and Russia fight shoulder to shoulder since World War II. A Russian newspaper recalled that "WWII had forced the Western World and the Soviet Union to overcome their ideological differences", wondering whether ISIS would be the "new Hitler".
On 29 August 2020, the French Defense Minister Florence Parly informed that a senior military officer came under investigation for sharing the ultra-sensitive information to the Russian intelligence. The lieutenant-colonel was alleged of "serious security breaches", for which he was facing legal proceedings. 
During the Cold War, Russian active measures targeted French public opinion. Some indication of the success is given by polls that showed more French support to the Soviet Union than the United States.
According to French counterintelligence sources in 2010, Russian espionage operations against France have reached levels not seen since the 1980s.
Examples of suspected or verified Soviet and Russian operations: