France has summoned the Russian ambassador over the deaths of two French humanitarian aid workers last week in a Russian strike in Ukraine – as well as what it says is a disinformation campaign targeting France.
French terrorism prosecutors have opened a war crimes investigation into a strike last Thursday in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine that killed two French aid workers and injured three other citizens.
Foreign Minister Stephane Séjourné said the strike, near the frontline on the Dnipro river, was an act of “barbarism”, and wrote on X that Russia would be made to answer for its “crimes”.
Russian ambassador Alexey Meshkov is to be summoned to the ministry over the attack, and over what France has called a surge of disinformation about alleged French mercenaries fighting in Ukraine.
Two days after France announced new arms deliveries to Ukraine, on 16 January, Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had killed some 60 French mercenaries in a strike on a building in Kharkiv.
France has denied that it has mercenaries in Ukraine, while Russian lawmakers adopted a resolution condemning them.
France has also accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of relaying false information after suggesting missiles that had downed a Russian plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war could have been from a French air defence system.
The foreign ministry has warned of more disinformation attacks as French President Emmanuel Macron plans to visit Ukraine this month.
Meshkov was summoned to the foreign ministry twice before, including soon after Russia’s 2022 invasion to answer for a tweet the embassy posted about atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.