A beret and a badge to prove that legionnaires would have been present in Mariupol? This is the allegation that has been widely shared since Wednesday on social networks. Several Internet users allege that members of the Foreign Legion entrenched themselves in the port of this city hard hit by the war with members of the Azov regiment, a regiment that regularly appears in pro-Russian propaganda.
They rely for this on a video from the YouTube account “War gonzo”, published on April 4, and which has since accumulated 272,000 views. It shows a man, probably a Russian soldier, grabbing the beret from the back of what looks like a military vehicle littered with trash. The soldier then presents a badge to the camera.
This YouTube channel is hosted by Semyon Pegov, who films videos alongside the Russian military. He had previously worked in the Donbass for Life News, a reputable site close to the Kremlin.
The beret and the badge visible in the video are indeed elements of the uniform of the Foreign Legion, confirm to us sources specialists in this body of the French army. However, elements challenge: “We see that the beret is new”, underlines a military source with 20 minutes. As for the badge, it should bear a number on the front side, adds this source, which is not the case here.
It is also possible to buy a beret and a badge in military surplus or on the internet, completes a second specialist in these questions, who adds: “A legionnaire does not abandon his beret. They are taught very young not to part with their weapon and their beret. »
In addition, France does not deploy legionnaires in Ukraine, recalls a military source, which cannot however exclude the presence on the spot of former legionnaires or deserters. As for the legionnaires currently under contract with the army, they are not authorized to go on their own initiative to Ukraine: those who disobey orders and disappear run the risk of being disbarred, reminded 20 minutes on March 11 Colonel Antoine Fleuret, Chief of Staff of the Foreign Legion Command.
The Foreign Legion has repeatedly alerted to the case of men declaring that they want to go to Ukraine and presenting themselves as former legionnaires. On Twitter, the recruitment office did not hesitate to point out that some had never acquired this status, having only stayed a few weeks in these units.
90% of the infrastructure of the city of Mariupol is destroyed, according to Vadim Boïtchenko, the mayor of the city, who described Tuesday to AFP the situation as having “passed the stage of a humanitarian catastrophe”. An evacuation convoy of a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross has explained this Wednesday having had to give up approaching the city because of the “security conditions”.