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15 Jun, 2023 00:04

EU rules out NATO troops openly fighting in Ukraine

The bloc doesn’t want to risk an all-out war with Russia, the EU’s top commander has said
EU rules out NATO troops openly fighting in Ukraine

Western countries will not send their soldiers to fight Russia on behalf of Ukraine, Director General of the European Union Military Staff Vice Admiral Herve Blejean said on Wednesday. 

“To send ground troops to Ukraine is to be a party in a war, to be at war with Russia, and nobody wants that, neither the EU, nor NATO,” Blejean told the French TV channel LCI. “We are not at war with Russia. We are supporting a country attacked by Russia.”

Blejean added that the ongoing Ukrainian offensive would “not be the end of the war, regardless of its results.” 

The French admiral’s remarks are a direct contradiction of former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's suggestion that individual members, such as Poland and the Baltic states, could ultimately decide to deploy soldiers to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, however, confirmed last week that there would not be foreign boots on the ground “before the end of the armed conflict” with Russia.

Volunteers from multiple NATO countries are already fighting on Kiev’s side, including Polish nationals who were involved in an armed incursion into Russia’s Belgorod Region earlier this month.

Moscow, meanwhile, has long insisted that by supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons and sharing intelligence, NATO countries have made themselves de facto direct participants in the conflict. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that NATO is “waging a war” against his country and that it is “ridiculous” to claim otherwise. 

Last month, the EU agreed to procure €1 billion ($1.08 billion) worth of artillery rounds and missiles for Ukraine. The US has committed more than $100 billion in aid to Kiev since Russia launched its operation in the neighboring state in February 2022.