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EXPOSED: French Spy Mingled With Foreign Mercenaries in Ukraine Two Years Before Conflict

Newly-appointed French Ambassador to Armenia Olivier Decottignies and Defense Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Helly. meet Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan on August 9 2023InternationalIndiaAfricaJames TweedieExclusiveA senior French military intelligence agent rubbed shoulders with foreign mercenaries in Ukraine two years before the conflict with Russia erupted, Sputnik has learned.Sputnik has obtained documents that indicate Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Helly, of the French Directorate of Military Intelligence (DRM) and Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE), rented an apartment in central Kiev for 59 nights from January to March 2020.France has been one of the key supporters of Ukraine in NATO’s proxy conflict with Russia, donating dozens of self-propelled artillery guns, light tanks and other armored vehicles, surface-to-air and cruise missiles. But now evidence, seen by Sputnik, suggest that Paris had intelligence agents in Kiev in the run-up to the conflict.Another document, from the French embassy in Kiev, officially notes his ‘fin de séjour’ (end of stay) on March 21 2020 and is signed off by Helly himself and the diplomatic mission’s Defence Attaché Andrée Evrard. But two more invoices seen by Sputnik show that Helly continued renting the same address for almost two more months until May 10 2020, paying the rent in advance.While the details of the colonel’s orders are unclear, the address he stayed at was just half a mile (800 metres) from the well-known Golden Gate Inn.British independent journalist Warren Thornton shared with Sputnik that he had spoken to ex-mercenaries who told him the Golden Gate Inn was a safe haven for members of their profession, along with spies and go-betweens — due to its reputation as a popular tourist spot and Irish pub, providing cover for their comings and goings and lessening the risk of being targeted by a Russian missile strike.Thornton served in the British army as a sniper for six years, followed by eight years guarding aid workers in war-torn countries — where he got to know many diplomatic attachés and private military contractors.

In a webcast, Thornton said that Helly “likes to frequent various restaurants that are known to be used by various contractors — now when we say contractors, that’s just a nice term for mercenary soldiers.”

Mystery Mission

The nature of Helly’s mission, which was followed by further visits to Kiev over the next two years, remains shrouded in mystery. But his presence came during a period when NATO countries were ramping up arms supplies and military training to Ukraine in preparation for conflict with neighboring Russia.The seven-week extension to his stay past the date it officially ended also strongly suggests an undercover secondary mission.Helly had previously visited the northern Russian city of St. Petersburg for a month from July to August 2018, ostensibly to improve his command of the Russian language. He stayed in another rented apartment under his “internet pseudonym” of Arnaud Hervé.Thornton has tracked the movements of French personnel in Russia, revealing that the DGSE had a string of agents in the St. Petersburg on monthly rotation.WorldUK Journo Arrested for ‘Malinformation’ After Exposing Trudeau Applauding Nazi26 September, 12:40 GMT

The Caucasian Connection

Helly has since been posted to Armenia, the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus that the West is attempting to lure out of the Russian orbit.

A press release by the Armenian Defense Ministry in August of this year reported on a meeting with the new French Ambassador Olivier Decottignies and "the newly appointed Defense Attaché, Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Helly."

The officer had previously been sent on assignments to neighboring Georgia, where US-backed pro-European Union protests have threatened to overthrow the government after it took a neutral stance on the conflict.© Photo : Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia / Newly-appointed French Ambassador to Armenia Olivier Decottignies and Defense Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Helly. meet Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan on August 9 2023Newly-appointed French Ambassador to Armenia Olivier Decottignies and Defense Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Helly. meet Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan on August 9 2023Newly-appointed French Ambassador to Armenia Olivier Decottignies and Defense Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Helly. meet Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan on August 9 2023

Military Laurels

Arnaud Gildas Helly was first commissioned into the French army as a second lieutenant in October 2006, public records show, after he graduated from the Saint-Cyr Military Academy in Brittany with a degree in economy and social sciences. At the time of his 2020 trip to Kiev, he held the rank of Commandant, equivalent to Major in the armies of English-speaking countries.In October 2020, to mark his 15th year in the military, he was awarded the National Order of Merit medal in the class of chevalier or knight, an honor bestowed on officers for service with “distinguished merits”. That was soon followed by a promotion in December 2021 to lieutenant colonel. The record does not detail what warranted his rapid rise through the ranks, but his work in Ukraine may have potentially something to do with that.

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