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Ukraine updates: Russia warns France against sending troops

Published May 8, 2024last updated May 8, 2024

Russia has warned that its forces would view any French forces sent to Ukraine as legitimate targets. Meanwhile, Ukraine has suffered a wave of new attacks on its energy infrastructure. DW has the latest.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visit Irpin
Macron most recently said in a magazine interview that he would not rule out sending Western troops to UkraineImage: Ludovic Marin/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow would view any French soldiers deployed in Ukraine as legitimate targets.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the warning was in response to renewed comments from French President Emmanuel Macron raising the possibility. He has said he cannot rule out the deployment of ground troops in Ukraine in the future.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says it has already seen an increasing number of French citizens among battlefield fatalities on the Ukrainian side.

In other Ukraine news, Russian drones hit nearly a dozen critical energy facilities as part of Moscow's campaign against Ukraine's power grid. 

Here's a look at the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, May 8. This blog has been closed.

Skip next section Germany and Finland pledge to counter Russian threat
May 8, 2024

Germany and Finland pledge to counter Russian threat

Finland's new president, Alexander Stubb met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Wednesday.

Both German politicians praised Finland's decision to join the NATO defense alliance with Scholz speaking of the desire to, "learn from Finland's experience as Russia’s neighbor."

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer-long (808-mile-long) border with Russia, applied for NATO membership in May 2022 in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, becoming a member last April.

German President Steinmeier said Helsinki's membership, "increases Finland's security of course, but above all it strengthens the eastern flank of NATO and thus increases the security of the entire Alliance."

Stubb in turn warned that Europe was "under brutal attack."

"We must stand together and defend Europe together," he said, adding that NATO allies must "remain strong in our support for the Ukrainians" in the coming months.

Speaking of ongoing hybrid Russian attacks on the EU — including suspected cyberattacks and various attempts to destabilize the European political system — Stubb said, "We must remain calm and take the necessary steps to end this warfare."  

Skip next section EU states agree to use income from Russian assets to help Ukraine
May 8, 2024

EU states agree to use income from Russian assets to help Ukraine

The ambassadors of European Union (EU) member states on Wednesday reached a deal "in principle" to use the proceeds of Russian assets frozen in the bloc to fund military aid for Ukraine.

"The money will serve to support Ukraine's recovery and military defense in the context of the Russian aggression," according to the Belgian government, which has been chairing the talks.

The details of agreement have yet to be hammered out. But the deal concerns interest and other profits accrued by the frozen assets, not the actual assets themselves, and could yield as much as €3 billion ($3.23 billion) for Ukraine this year alone.

Around 90% of the money would fund military aid, while 10% would provide general financial support.

According to the European Commission, the total value of Russian Central Bank assets frozen in the EU since February 2022 is around €210 billion. Most of the money is held by the Brussels-based financial institution Euroclear, which recently announced that the assets had made around €4.4 billion in interest in 2023.

It is this money which the EU has now agreed to use to support Kyiv, a plan the bloc believes is legally sound despite warnings from the Kremlin that it would trigger "serious consequences."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the deal, saying there coud be "no stronger symbol and no greater use for that money than to make Ukraine and all of Europe a safer place to live."

EU member states still need to officially endorse the ambassadors' agreement.

There are currently no plans to hand the underlying assets themselves to Ukraine, due to a combination of legal concerns, the likelihood of retaliation and the risk to investors' confidence in the EU.

Skip next section Ukraine: Some prisoners will be allowed to fight
May 8, 2024

Ukraine: Some prisoners will be allowed to fight

Ukraine's Parliament on Wednesday approved a law that would enable certain kinds of prisoners to fight in the armed forces, three lawmakers said on Wednesday.

"The Parliament has voted 'yes' ... on the voluntary mobilization of prisoners. The draft law opens the possibility for certain categories of prisoners who expressed a desire to defend their country to join the Defense Forces," Olena Shuliak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Servant of the People party, said in a Facebook post.

She said the law would not apply to people serving sentences for serious offenses such as murder, sexual violence or endangering national security. 

The law would allow conditional early release for military service under a contract for the accepted categories of prisoner.

The chairperson of the assembly, or Verkhovna Rada, and President Zelenskyy need to sign the law before it comes into force.

Russia is known to have already been recruiting prisoners for its war in Ukraine, a practice started in the summer of 2022 by the mercenary outfit the Wagner Group under its  leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Prigozhin, who is presumed to have been killed in a plane crash in August last year, offered the prisoners — including people convicted for murder and violent crime — Kremlin pardons and cash incentives in return for six months of service in Ukraine.

Skip next section Indian police arrest 4 for luring recruits to Russia's war
May 8, 2024

Indian police arrest 4 for luring recruits to Russia's war

Investigators in India said federal police arrested four people accused of duping young men into going to Russia to fight in the Ukraine war.

At least two Indians have been killed in the conflict, with many more saying they were lured to Russia and sent to the front lines under false pretenses.

Two of the four were arrested on Tuesday, India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said, while another two were arrested on April 24.

They included a translator, a person who would arrange visas and plane tickets, and two main recruiters operating in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The CBI said "gullible youths" would be promised lucrative jobs or university places, only to be forced to the front line after arriving in Russia. They would be targeted using online platforms such as YouTube.

The arrests come two months after the investigators raided 13 locations in India and detained several suspects.

Skip next section Germany's Pistorius urges more Ukraine support in US, Canada tour
May 8, 2024

Germany's Pistorius urges more Ukraine support in US, Canada tour

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has appealed for further joint support for Ukraine, at the beginning of a military policy trip to North America.

On his first stop in the United States, Pistorius emphasized Germany's increased contribution to NATO in an address to representatives of the American Jewish Committee in New York. 

The minister said Russian President Vladimir Putin must not be allowed to succeed in his war of aggression. 

"It is a question of whether and how democracies defend themselves," said Pistorius.

The center-left politician is set to meet his US counterpart Lloyd Austin in Washington on Thursday and Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair in Ottawa on Friday.

Ukraine has been defending itself from an all-out Russian invasion since February 24, 2022, with huge amounts of Western weaponry and financial aid

Defense Minister Pistorius on domestic weapons production

Skip next section Russia hits Lviv in wave of drone and missile attacks
May 8, 2024

Russia hits Lviv in wave of drone and missile attacks

The Ukrainian air force says it downed a barrage of Russian missiles and drones fired overnight into Wednesday targeting energy infrastructure.

However, nearly a dozen critical energy sites were hit, including two in the Lviv region, in Ukraine's far west.

Moscow has recently intensified its attacks on Ukraine's power grid, triggering blackouts and electricity rationing across the country.

"The enemy used 76 means of air attack — 55 missiles and 21 attack drones," the air force said on Telegram. The statement said air defense systems had intercepted 39 missiles and 20 drones.

Authorities said an 8-year-old child was wounded in the central Kirovograd region while falling debris in the area surrounding Kyiv wounded two people.

Ukraine: Front line electricians risk lives restoring power

The capital was placed on alert for three hours as Russian forces launched several cruise missiles against it. 

"Rockets entered Kyiv from different directions — all air targets in the area of the capital were destroyed," Kyiv's military administration said.

The strikes targeted energy infrastructure facilities in at least six regions, Ukraine's Energy Ministry said.

Authorities have already been forced to impose rolling blackouts in several regions because of the attacks.

"The enemy has not abandoned plans to deprive Ukrainians of light," Energy Minister German Galushchenko said. 

Skip next section Russia warns France to stay out of Ukraine
May 8, 2024

Russia warns France to stay out of Ukraine

Russia has warned that any French troops sent to Ukraine would be treated as legitimate targets by Moscow's military.

French President Emmanuel Macron sparked controversy in February by saying he was not prepared to rule out deploying ground troops in Ukraine. Macron made the statement as he warned that Europe's credibility would be reduced to zero if Russia were to win in Ukraine.

Russia's latest statement came after the French president repeated the idea earlier this month in an interview with The Economist magazine.

"It is characteristic that Macron himself explains this rhetoric with the desire to create some kind of 'strategic uncertainty' for Russia," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a press briefing.

"We have to disappoint him — for us the situation looks more than certain," Zakharova said.

Zakharova said growing numbers of French nationals were already appearing among those killed in Ukraine.

"If the French appear in the conflict zone, they will inevitably become targets for the Russian armed forces. It seems to me that Paris already has proof of this."

On Monday, Russia said it would practice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons amid threats from France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

rc/nm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)