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France sends elite police unit to protect its embassy in Ukraine’s Kyiv

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France has sent an elite police unit to Kyiv to bolster the safety of its embassy in the Ukrainian capital, a security source told AFP on Friday.

The team of eight, deployed since Wednesday at the embassy, is part of the GIGN, the French gendarmerie’s elite tactical police force, the source said.

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They join the embassy’s five permanent GIGN staff whose brief is to protect the embassy and its personnel against any threat.

According to the Ukrainian army, Russian forces have been closing in on Kyiv from the north-east and east, with explosions heard in the city center early Friday.

The deployment comes as France has begun to express concern about the safety of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said Friday he would stay put despite being the “number one target” for the advancing Russians.

“We are ready to help him if necessary,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio Friday.

But he declined to say whether such help could extend to an exfiltration of the president from Ukraine.

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