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Fake Kremlin Video of “French Soldier” in Ukraine Exposed

Moscow spreads false claims French military are fighting proxy war in Ukraine

Source: Times of India/YouTube (screenshot, May 31, 2024)

The French Embassy in South Africa has used humour and sarcasm to unmask a propaganda video fake being spread by official Moscow accounts purporting to feature a so-called “French soldier/mercenary” being “captured” in Ukraine by Russian forces.

The video had been spread by conspiracist accounts claiming Western/Nato forces are already on the ground in Ukraine as evidence of a “proxy war” against Russia.

After the video was shared by the Russian Embassy of South Africa official account, it earned a swift and humiliating rebuke from its French counterpart. “Colleagues, you have been spreading fake news for some time and we are now used to this rather undiplomatic practice,” The French Embassy in South Africa X account posted. “However, this one is particularly ridiculous. We suggest your actors work on their accent with some French classes at Alliance française:”

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this week that any French military instructors in Ukraine would be a "legitimate target" for Russian strikes. Lavrov also claimed without proof that he believed French instructors were "already on Ukraine territory” training Ukraine soldiers.

Le Monde newspaper reported that French President Emmanuel Macron — who will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the sidelines of this week’s 80th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy — could soon announce a “small coalition of countries willing to send military trainers on the ground in Ukraine”.

Before the fake video was circulated, official conspiracist Russian media accounts including Sputnik “reported” that French foreign legionnaires were already on the ground in Ukraine. The Times of India YouTube channel picked up on the conspiracy-mongering, sharing an earlier video “report” titled  “On Cam: French Fighter 'Caught Fighting' For Ukraine; Russia Seethes Over Big 'Provocation'.” “Stunning images from Ukraine's battlefield emerge amid clamor over NATO's troop deployment, The Times of India YouTube video blurb read. “A Russian news agency shared images of a Ukrainian troop who "originally was a French fighter." The report stated that the fighter tried to hide his identity after being exposed.”

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Emma-Kate Symons
Emma-Kate Symons
Emma-Kate Symons is a Paris-based journalist and columnist who has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The New European and Reuters. Educated at the University of Sydney and Columbia University, Emma-Kate has reported from all over Europe, as well as from New York, Washington, Manila, Bangkok and Canberra.
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