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19 Mar, 2024 18:55

France preparing to deploy troops to Ukraine – Russia’s top spy

Some 2,000 soldiers would be sent in the “initial stage” of the operation, Sergey Naryshkin said
France preparing to deploy troops to Ukraine – Russia’s top spy

France is preparing its forces for deployment to Ukraine, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin claimed in a statement on Tuesday. Paris allegedly seeks to send as many as 2,000 troops to Ukraine, he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that he “cannot exclude” the possibility of Western soldiers being sent to aid Kiev in its fight against Moscow, branding Russia an “adversary” while denying Paris was “waging war” against it.

Russia’s military and top officials have repeatedly pointed to the presence of French mercenaries already fighting for Kiev on the ground. In mid-January, the Russian Defense Ministry said that more than 60 foreigners, predominantly French nationals, had been killed in a high precision strike against a “temporary assembly point of foreign fighters.”

In the statement on Tuesday, the SVR chief said the French Armed Forces had become “concerned” about the rising number of French nationals dying in Ukraine.

The casualty level has supposedly surpassed a “psychological threshold” and could trigger protests, the statement said, adding that Macron’s government was concealing this information and “delaying” the moment it would have to be revealed.

According to the spy chief, the French military is worried about the government’s plans to send the contingent to Ukraine, considering that such an operation would be difficult to conduct without Russia noticing.

The French soldiers would indeed become “a legitimate priority target for attacks by the Russian Armed Forces,” Naryshkin said.

The claims come as the chief of staff of the French Army, Gen. Pierre Schill, said in an interview on Tuesday that France is prepared to take part in the “toughest engagements” militarily, and is ready to face any international developments. He added that Paris could assemble a division of 20,000 troops within 30 days and an army of 60,000 by joining with divisions from other NATO allies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also claimed this week that Western mercenaries, including French nationals, are dying in Ukraine “in large numbers.” Commenting on a potential NATO deployment to Ukraine, the president also warned that this would be “one step shy of a full-scale World War III.”