Kremlin backs calls for inquiry into French mercenaries in Ukraine
France should strongly discourage its citizens from taking part in Kiev’s criminal actions, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said during a press briefing on Wednesday. Paris recently admitted that it could not stop its nationals from traveling to Ukraine to fight against Russia.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russian lawmakers formally appealed to the French parliament to explain the participation of French mercenaries in the conflict, and expressed regret that France was “prolonging the agony of the Nazi Kiev regime.”
Paris has officially denied that French soldiers-for-hire are taking part in the hostilities, calling it “Russian disinformation.”
Peskov insisted, however, that Moscow has “reliable information” that French nationals are present in Ukraine and are acting as mercenaries.
”As for claims by French representatives that they can’t do anything about those who wish to take part in the massacre in Ukraine, we regret this and think that it’s better to treat your citizens more carefully,” Peskov said, stating further that Paris should “at least strongly recommend [its citizens] not to take part in the criminal acts of the Kiev regime.”
The Russian military announced last week that it had killed over 60 foreign fighters in a precision strike on the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, saying that most of them were French-speakers. In response, the French Foreign Ministry insisted that “France has no mercenaries, neither in Ukraine nor elsewhere.”
However, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu later acknowledged that a number of French nationals had enlisted to fight alongside the Ukrainian military. He emphasized that those people had no connections with the French armed forces.
Mercenary work has been illegal in France since 2003, punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to €75,000 euros ($81,000). However, the law allows French nationals to “volunteer” in foreign military forces.