The French government has categorically denied Russian allegations regarding the involvement of state-funded mercenaries in the Ukraine conflict. In a recent development, Russia’s Defence Ministry claimed a strike on a base in Kharkiv, alleging it housed French mercenaries, with several purportedly killed or injured. Following the alleged strike, Russian parliament publicly accused France of funding mercenaries in Ukraine. This accusation has been widely circulated in Russian and pro-Russian media.
Responding to these allegations, the French Foreign Ministry stated, “This is another clumsy Russian manipulation; France does not employ mercenaries in Ukraine or anywhere else, unlike some people.”
France’s denial is part of a broader narrative of Russian disinformation tactics targeting Western nations. In recent times, France has repeatedly accused Russia of orchestrating digital disinformation campaigns. A notable instance occurred last June, when French authorities identified a significant digital influence operation involving anti-Ukraine content on websites mimicking major French news outlets. One fabricated article falsely claimed that France was introducing a new tax to finance its support for Kyiv.
The authenticity of the lists naming allegedly killed French mercenaries, circulated by pro-Russian groups and on platforms like Telegram, has also been called into question. Investigations have found that these lists contain inconsistencies and lack credible verification. One of the 13 French citizens listed by SOS Donbass as a mercenary killed in the strike refuted the claim on Facebook, asserting their well-being and labeling it as Russian disinformation.