France denies Russian claims it plans to send 2,000 troops to Ukraine

France’s Armed Forces Ministry has denied claims by Russian Foreign Intelligence Service head Sergey Naryshkin that it plans to send 2,000 troops to fight against Russia in Ukraine.

The Ministry said in a tweet that Naryshkin’s comments represented a “further example of the systematic use of mass disinformation by Russia” and called for the “utmost vigilance” when dealing with such claims.

The denial follows a claim by Naryshkin on Tuesday that France was “visibly concerned” about the number of French volunteer fighters killed in Ukraine and that it was supposedly preparing a contingent of 2,000 soldiers to fight in their place.

In a statement published by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Naryshkin said that French soldiers fighting for Ukraine would be a “legitimate priority target” for Russian troops and that their fate would be the same as that of “all Frenchmen who ever came to the Russian world with a sword”.

French President Emmanuel Macron has in recent weeks repeatedly refused to rule out NATO troops being sent to fight in Ukraine, while French Army Chief of Staff Pierre Schill wrote in Le Monde on Tuesday that the country’s military was preparing for the “toughest engagements” to “guard against aggression and defend its interests”.

Russia’s Defence Ministry alleged in March that 147 French “mercenaries” fighting for Ukraine had been killed since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine. In January, France’s Armed Forces Ministry called Russian claims of over 60 French “mercenaries” being killed in a missile strike on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv part of a “crude Russian disinformation campaign”.

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