France denies Russia’s claims that it has mercenaries in Ukraine

PARIS (Reuters) – France denied on Thursday claims made earlier by Russia that there were French mercenaries in Ukraine, as it responded to a statement made earlier this week by Russia’s defence ministry that Russia had killed French mercenaries in Kharkiv.

“France helps Ukraine with supplies of military material and military training, in full compliance with international law, in order to help Ukraine in its fight to defend its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” said the French foreign ministry.

“France has no mercenaries, neither in Ukraine nor elsewhere, unlike certain others,” it added.

On Wednesday, Russia said its forces had carried out a precision strike a day earlier on a building housing “foreign fighters” in Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv. The defence ministry said the fighters were mostly French mercenaries and the building was destroyed, with more than 60 people killed. It did not provide evidence, and Reuters could not verify the claims.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Tassilo Hummel/Sudip Kar-Gupta)