Paris has been a party to the conflict since 2022, Stevan Gajic has said
One of the reasons France has backed Ukraine is that Russia has helped many of its former African countries escape neo-colonial shackles, Dr. Stevan Gajic of the Institute of European Studies in Belgrade told RT on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the deaths of 60 foreign fighters in a precision strike on the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. The majority of the killed and wounded in the strike spoke French, according to the Russian military.
“French President [Emmanuel] Macron was quite hysterical both in Paris and in Davos, claiming that Russia has to be defeated, that the West should not let Russia win,” Gajic told RT.
According to him, France is “especially frustrated” because Russia has helped several African countries liberate themselves from French neo-colonial rule and exploitation. “So I think that’s another motive for such feverish support of the Ukrainian cause, and NATO’s cause against Russia,” Gajic added.
The Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have all rejected the tutelage of Paris in recent years and struck security agreements with Moscow.
The official response of the French Foreign Ministry to the Kharkov strike contained a veiled accusation that Russian “mercenaries” – such as the now-defunct Wagner Group – were operating in Africa.
“France has no mercenaries, neither in Ukraine nor elsewhere, unlike certain others,” said the statement issued on Thursday by Quai d’Orsay, adding that France helps Ukraine “with supplies of military material and military training, in full compliance with international law.”
According to Gajic, Paris has been an “active participant” in the Ukraine conflict since 2022, when it sent Kiev “a huge number of vehicles” as well as the Caesar self-propelled howitzers, many of which have since been destroyed in the fighting. France has also pledged to provide Ukraine with more weapons and ammunition, although its annual production of 155mm artillery shells – about 20,000 – would barely last a week on the battlefield, Gajic added.
Multiple persons speaking French were admitted to Kharkov hospitals after the Russian missile strikes, according to Ukrainian intelligence sources. While the initial assumption was that they were foreign fighters who enlisted in the Ukrainian “International Legion” or a similar outfit, several analysts have floated the possibility these might have been French military instructors or advisers instead.
If that proves to be the case, former US Marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter told Sputnik on Thursday, the missile strike could be a message from Russia that NATO personnel on the ground in Ukraine have become “fair game.”