No Evidence of French Troops in Ukraine 

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Original article (in Montenegrin) was published on 8/5/2024; Author: Marko Vukajlović

Viral news is circulating on regional media and social networks with claims that French soldiers are officially present in Ukraine.

Among the numerous posts ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) (archived: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13), the following statements were made:

Media: France sends Foreign Legion to Ukraine

AMERICANS CLAIM: France sends Foreign Legion to Ukraine

Macron fulfils his intentions: First units of the French Foreign Legion arrive in Sloviansk

RUSSIANS WON’T TOLERATE THIS FOR LONG: France sends Foreign Legion to Ukraine

“As reported, representatives of the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the French Foreign Legion arrived on Thursday at the location of the 54th Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Sloviansk.”

Confusion arose from a blog post that asiatimes.com later published as an article. Written by Stephen Bryen, a former US official, the piece was titled ‘France sends combat troops to Ukraine battlefront‘ and opened with the question: ‘Will the deployment of a Foreign Legion unit commanded by French officers trigger a wider European war?‘ Initially, Bryen provided no evidence to support his claims nor cited any official sources. Despite this, regional media widely circulated the news. Later, Bryen acknowledged his uncertainty by stating that he was ‘no prophet or sage’ and admitted he ‘could be wrong,’ revealing that his sources were merely posts from social networks like X and Telegram.

French Ministry Confirms: No French Soldiers in Ukraine

Given the rapid spread of news regarding French soldiers in Ukraine, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded swiftly. On their X channel, the Ministry states:

Disinformation campaigns on France’s support to Ukraine are as active as ever. Let’s have a look 🔎

No, France has not sent troops to #Ukraine.

Colleagues from the Spanish Maldita directly contacted the French Ministry of Defense and received the following response: “We confirm that there are no French soldiers on Ukrainian soil.”

AP also reported on this case. Their headline reads:

“No, France has not deployed troops to fight with Ukraine against Russia.”

AP sought answers from Bryen, and he referred them to his other article, where he said “he could be wrong” and added that “the French always deny having anyone at all in Ukraine.”

AP provides further details about the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment of the French Foreign Legion, whose members are supposedly in Ukraine:

“France’s 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment, of the Foreign Legion, has been based in Kourou, French Guiana, since 1973. Its responsibilities include protecting the Guiana Space Center and fighting against illegal gold panning.”

French Guiana is an overseas region of France located in northeastern South America.

Who is Stephen Bryen?

Finally, it is necessary to discuss the individual who ‘stirred the pot.’ Stephen Bryen, who served as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, currently has a channel on the Substack network called ‘Weapons and Strategy.’ It is described as ‘delivers cutting-edge insights on crucial security matters, providing you with objective, dispassionate, and extensively researched reports.’ His profile on X states that he is a leading authority on technology, national security, and cybersecurity, as well as an inventor and author.

Ukrainian media see him as a Russian propagandist, due to his history of similar claims. He previously asserted that NATO was deploying troops in Ukraine, as well as that the US planned a “Nazi rescue” of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv.

Due to Bryen’s unverified claims that went viral, coupled with France’s official denial and the absence of evidence of French troops in Ukraine, the controversial posts receive the rating – “fake news.”

The “Fake news” rating is given to an original media report (completely produced by the media that published it) that contains factually incorrect claims or information. Content that is rated as fake news can be reliably determined to have been created and disseminated with the intent to misinform the public, that is, to present a completely false claim as fact.