DONETSK, Ukraine: The president of the self-declared pro-Russian People's Republic of Donetsk claimed on Sunday French military "experts" were joining separatist forces battling government troops in eastern Ukraine.
"Tomorrow, we will receive officers from France. They are specialists ready to fight with us," Alexandre Zakhartchenko said at a Sunday press conference.
However, he gave no details on the French servicemen, nor did he specify their numbers.
There are also "Serbs and Swiss" among the pro-Moscow militants who are fighting for "European and socialist ideals", Zakhartchenko claimed.
He also said the separatists had launched an offensive against Ukrainian forces in the south of Donetsk -- the largest rebel-held city in Ukraine that has seen intense fighting in recent weeks.
Zakhartchenko said hundreds of soldiers loyal to Kiev had been killed or injured in battles around the city. None of his claims could be independently verified.