France on Thursday denied Russia’s accusation that French mercenaries were being used in Ukraine. Russia had earlier claimed that French mercenaries were attacked by its forces in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. France has countered this claim by emphasizing it doesn’t employ mercenaries.
“France has no ‘mercenaries’ in Ukraine or elsewhere, unlike some individuals,” the French foreign ministry stated, dismissing the claim as “another clumsy Russian manipulation.”
Moscow’s defense ministry stated on Wednesday that it had targeted “foreign militants in the city of Kharkiv, the core of which were French contractors” in a January 16 strike.
The ministry announced the killing dozens of foreign militants and injuring many more but offered no evidence.
France’s ambassador was reportedly summoned in connection with the incident, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.
Tuesday’s strikes heavily damaged a multi-storey building in central Kharkiv, causing debris to scatter in the street below.
Local authorities reported 17 civilians wounded, and Kharkiv region governor Oleg Synegubov emphasized the absence of military targets in the area.
“While the Russian defense ministry claims it killed French mercenaries they actually hit residential, energy facilities, and medical facilities,” observer group All Eyes on Wagner noted on X, formerly Twitter.
Situated near the Russian border, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has faced continuous shelling since Russia initiated large-scale hostilities in February 2022.