France issues dark warning over Vladimir Putin's 'threats' of sabotage

France has issued Russia with a stern warning following ramped-up efforts of “sabotage and cyber attacks” targeting the country’s armed forces.

Sébastien Lecornu, the French armed forces minister, has raised the alarm over repeated attempts to “take control” of air and sea patrols recently conducted by the ministry.

Speaking on radio network RTL, Mr Lecornu said the cyber attacks came before a major threat was levelled against a French aircraft as it flew through international waters in the Black Sea.

He called for security measures against Russia to be stepped up after concluding Putin was “playing with limits”.

French President Emmanuel Macron has echoed those warnings, stating Russia has “crossed several limits”.

Speaking to RTL earlier this week, Mr Lecornu said the cyberattacks began after Paris signed a security agreement with Ukraine.

The 10-year agreement – signed this week in the French capital – pledged an additional €3billion (£2.5billion) in aid and was quickly followed by renewed cyberattacks that were “first and foremost” aimed at France’s defence ministry.

The defence minister said the attacks were “attempts by the Russians to take control of a certain number of our patrols”.

A memo from the Ministry of the Armed Forces obtained by French news agency AFP warned that “hybrid interference operations” from Russia had increased since the country invaded Ukraine, both on France and its allies.

What followed those initial attacks was even more concerning, as the minister said Russia directly threatened a French aircraft.

He added: “A month ago, a Russian air traffic control system threatened to shoot down French aircraft in the Black Sea even though we were in an internationally free zone in which we patrol.”

He said the Russian air traffic control operators had told French pilots they would “shoot down their aircraft”.

On another occasion, a Russian warship had anchored in the Bay of Seine, again in international waters, but officials said the move was “as if to intimidate France”.

The French president was similarly concerned about Russia’s recent actions, saying on Thursday, February 22 that Putin’s regime has “crossed several limits” in carrying out the new wave of cyberattacks.

He said earlier today that the attacks – which have targeted commercial and official organisations across the Western world since 2022 – showed “a desire for aggression”.