A former top Russian official injured in Ukraine said Wednesday he had sent the shrapnel from a French howitzer shell that he claimed struck him to President Emmanuel Macron.
Dmitry Rogozin, an outspoken former deputy prime minister, was injured last month by shelling in Donetsk, a Russian-held city in eastern Ukraine.
Rogozin, an ardent supporter of President Vladimir Putin‘s campaign in Ukraine, said that he had written to France’s ambassador to Moscow, Pierre Levy.
“In this envelope along with my letter you will see a fragment of a shell from a French 155-mm French artillery piece Caesar,” Rogozin said in his open letter to Levy published on Telegram.
“It punctured my right shoulder and lodged in the fifth cervical vertebra only a millimetre away from killing me or rendering me an invalid,” he wrote.
Rogozin, also a former head of Russia’s space agency, said the incident took place during a “work meeting” in the restaurant of a hotel in Donetsk.
Russian state news channel Rossiya 24 TV reported at the time that he had been celebrating his 59th birthday.
The channel broadcast images of the hotel and restaurant with parts of the roof destroyed and debris scattered all around.
Rogozin said he had regularly stayed in this hotel during trips to the Donetsk region, which Russia claimed to have annexed in September along with three other Ukrainian regions, despite widespread condemnation from the West.
Rogozin said the same shelling had killed two of his friends, adding: “All our victims are on your conscience”.
“I ask that you give the fragment cut out of my spine by surgeons to French President Emmanuel Macron,” Rogozin wrote.
“And tell him that no-one will escape responsibility for war crimes,” he added, accusing Western powers.
Contacted by AFP, the French embassy in Moscow declined to comment on the letter.