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Paris says it will respond to Russia after remarks about French instructors in Ukraine

by Kateryna Denisova June 5, 2024 11:54 PM 2 min read
Photo for illustrative purposes. Newly trained Ukrainian artillery specialists firing British donated AS90 155mm self-propelled artillery guns under the supervision of British Army instructors as they come to the end of their training in southwest England. (Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
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France's Foreign Ministry condemned a statement made by Alexander Makogonov, spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Paris, about French military instructors being sent to Ukraine, the BFM TV channel reported on June 5.

Makogonov's claims echoed the words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said that the presence of French military instructors in Ukraine would be deemed a "legitimate target" for Russia's Armed Forces

"If you send your soldiers, your instructors to Ukrainian soil to train Ukrainian soldiers how to better target and kill Russians, they will obviously become a legitimate target," Makogonov told the BFM TV on June 4.

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 Paris and other Western allies were still ongoing.

Christophe Lemoine, deputy spokesperson of the French Foreign Ministry, said Paris is considering how to respond to Makogonov's remarks.

"These are outrageous statements that will not go unanswered," he said.

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.

France is reportedly planning to initially send a limited number of personnel to assess the modalities of a mission before involving several hundred trainers, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed diplomats.

Training would reportedly focus on demining, keeping equipment operational, and technical expertise for warplanes to be provided by the West.

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.

Biden to meet with Zelensky in Normandy before attending G7
U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Normandy following the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on June 4, 2024.
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