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French military instructors would be 'legitimate target' for Russian attacks, Lavrov says

by Dmytro Basmat June 5, 2024 3:01 AM 2 min read
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum 2024 in Antalya, Turkey, on March 1, 2024. (Mert Gokhan Koc/ dia images via Getty Images)
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The presence of French military instructors in Ukraine would be deemed a "legitimate target" of attack by Russia's Armed Forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on June 4.

"As for the French instructors, I think they are already on the Ukrainian territory," Lavrov said during a press conference alongside Congo’s Foreign Minister Jean Claude Gakosso. "Regardless of their status, military officials or mercenaries represent a legitimate target for our armed forces."

Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on May 27 that France is planning instructors to Ukraine to train the military, although Ukraine's Defense Minister later said that discussions with France and other Western allies were still ongoing.

While French President Emmanuel Macron has not officially confirmed that the country will send military instructors, Macron said that an announcement on support for Ukraine will be made at the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day this week.

According to the Associated Press, Macron's office declined to comment on Lavrov's remarks.

Lavrov's remarks fall closely in line with comments made by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov earlier in the day.

"Instructors who train the Kyiv regime’s troops don’t have any sort of immunity, and it doesn’t matter whether they are French or not,” Peskov said.

Russia's campaign to pressure France to delay sending military instructors manifested on the streets of Moscow with posters appearing on a bus stop outside the French embassy, along with the inscription "French, do not repeat the mistakes of your ancestors," France24 reported earlier on Tuesday.

Kyiv has asked the U.S. and other NATO countries to help train 150,000 soldiers closer to the front lines, according to the New York Times.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in late May that "there are countries who are training soldiers on the ground already," without naming any specific countries or provide any further details on their purported operations in Ukraine.

Other NATO member states are discussing the possibility of sending military instructors or contractors to Ukraine to train troops and assist with equipment repairs.

Kyiv, Paris still discussing instructors’ presence in Ukraine, Defense Ministry says
The statement came after Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said that he had already signed documents “that will allow the first French instructors to visit training centers soon.”




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