I beg your pardon, but there is such a thing as synthetic grass
There is no such thing according to ITF. It is not an official surface.
Also, YK has a very decent record on carpet and Marat is quite capable of playing on it as well, so I don't think it's a done deal.
They simply have no choice. Russia has three good claycourters. France has one. If France chooses carpet, at least it mostly takes Youzhnyi out of consideration and gives the French more chance to match Safin with Santoro. On clay Russia can well opt to play Kafelnikov and Youzhnyi on the first day with Safin playing doubles and singles on the last day. And that completely takes Santoro out of picture, because Santoro is 0:9 against Kafelnikov and Youzhnyi. On clay Russia has so much more space for maneuvering. Leave alone the fact that Kafelnikov is triple RG champion in doubles and winning some clay Masters in doubles with different partners almost every year. The French choose clay and the doubles is gone, Santoro is gone, and they are left with lonely Grosjean and no other player having a mere idea of how to play on clay.. Maybe Gasquet?