Russia has donated a 25m tree Christmas tree to the Notre Dame cathedral in France, following an appeal for help.

The cathedral had struggled to raise the money for its annual tree and appealed to foreign embassies in Paris for assistance.

"It was a surprise but it won't create problems. It was a gift. No money changed hands. And if it helps to build bridges, so much the better.", said one of the Parisian clergy.

The surprise donation comes at a time of strained relations between the two countries, over Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.