French military instructors in Ukraine would be 'legitimate target', Russia says

French military instructors training soldiers in Ukraine would be a "legitimate target" for Russian strikes, Moscow's top diplomat said Tuesday, amid reports France could send trainers to the country.

France does not officially have military personnel assisting or training Ukrainian forces in Ukraine at the moment, but Kyiv said last week it was "in talks" with Paris on the issue.

"Whoever they are labelled as, whether they are members of the French armed forces or are just mercenaries, they represent an absolutely legitimate target for our armed forces," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference.

The Kremlin similarly did not rule out strikes on foreign instructors in Ukraine when asked about the issue earlier on Tuesday.

"Any instructors who are engaged in training the Ukrainian regime do not have any immunity. It does not matter whether they are French or not," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a briefing.

Ukrainian army chief Oleksandr Syrsky said last week French military instructors would soon arrive in the country – a claim that was quickly walked back by Ukraine's defence ministry.

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