French mercenaries dying for a Nazi regime – Russia’s top MP
The French public and lawmakers should be aware that their compatriots are fighting and dying as mercenaries in Ukraine, Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said on Friday.
The senior lawmaker was commenting on an announcement by the Defense Ministry in Moscow earlier this week, which said some 60 foreign fighters, most of them French citizens, were killed by a Russian long-range strike on the city of Kharkov on Tuesday.
The Russian military described them as “mercenaries,” although the French Foreign Ministry disputed this description, insisting that Paris “has no ‘mercenaries’ either in Ukraine or anywhere else.”
In a post on social media, Volodin said the lower chamber of the Russian parliament will soon consider a formal request to French lawmakers about the incident.
“There was a time when our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought together against fascism. Now, it turns out that French mercenaries are dying for the Nazi regime in Ukraine,” he stressed.
On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned French Ambassador to Moscow Pierre Levy in connection with the incident.
Ukrainian officials have denied the veracity of the Russian military's announcement and have claimed that Moscow’s forces only hit civilian targets in Kharkov on Tuesday.
Last summer, the Le Monde newspaper reported that French national intelligence estimated the number of its nationals fighting in Ukraine at 320. The overall pool of would-be recruits was put at 800, including 120 identified as far-right and 40 deemed ultra-left in terms of ideology. Overwhelmingly, they wanted to fight for Kiev rather than Moscow.
The report followed the arrest in April of two men who had returned to Paris from Ukraine, illegally carrying assault rifle magazines and optical sights. The local press described them as far-right individuals who were previously known to the French General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI). Both were sentenced to 15 months in jail, nine of which were suspended.