Envoys of the Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region have opened up a new representative office in the southern French city of Marseille.
The center, which was formally unveiled on September 25, was the latest effort by separatist officials to try and legitimize their authority in eastern Ukraine, where war broke out in March 2014.
The office was organized with the help of a small right-wing French political party known as the National Center of Independents and Peasants.
Hubert Fayard, who heads a branch of the party and is heading the new center, said the goal was to "inform French people of developments in Donbas," the region encompassing much of the eastern Ukrainian industrial heartland.
"France, as we know, does not officially recognize [the separatists in Donbas] but this does not prevent us from this activity, from informing people, establishing humanitarian contacts," Fayard was quoted by the Russian state-run news agency TASS as saying.
A spokesman for France's Foreign Ministry last week said the government had no plans to recognize the new center in Marseille.
At least 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and separatists who are backed by Russia, sometimes with heavy weaponry.
According to TASS, similar centers have been opened in other European countries including Finland, Greece, and Italy.
An office in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava was shut down in June after the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry sent a note of protest.