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27 Feb, 2024 15:59

NATO countries refuse to back Macron’s ‘troops in Ukraine’ claim

There are no plans for Western boots on the ground, multiple leaders have insisted
NATO countries refuse to back Macron’s ‘troops in Ukraine’ claim

The UK, Poland, Czech Republic, Finland, and Sweden all spoke up on Tuesday against French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Western troops could be deployed to Ukraine. 

While there was no consensus about sending ground forces, Macron said on Monday following a pro-Ukraine summit in Paris that “in terms of dynamics, we cannot exclude anything” in the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. 

There are “no plans for NATO combat troops on the ground in Ukraine,” the secretary-general of the US-led bloc, Jens Stoltenberg, told AP in response to Macron’s remarks.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not rule out sending troops in principle, but his spokesperson told reporters that “beyond the small number of personnel in [the] country supporting the armed forces [of Ukraine], we do not have any plans to make a large-scale deployment.”

Deploying troops is “not on the cards at all for the moment,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told the public broadcaster SVT, adding that “for the moment, we’re busy sending advanced equipment to Ukraine.” Stockholm pledged military aid worth 7.1 billion kronor ($682 million) to Kiev last week. Kristersson also said there is currently “no demand” from Ukraine for Western ground troops.

There was a “widely shared” perception at the summit in Paris against the use of NATO ground troops, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told the outlet Yle. He added that this is also Finland’s position.

Warsaw “does not plan to send its troops to the territory of Ukraine,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday. His Czech counterpart, Petr Fiala, echoed that sentiment, saying there is no “need to open some other methods or ways” of helping Kiev. 

If all EU member states were as committed as the Czech Republic and Poland to helping Ukraine, there would be no need to even discuss other forms of support, Tusk claimed.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was even more categorical, declaring that there will be “no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil, who are sent there by European or NATO countries” in the future.

The US and its allies have sent over $200 billion worth of financial, military, and material aid to the Ukrainian government since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022, vowing to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Moscow while insisting they are not actually a party to the hostilities. Russia’s repeated warnings about the dangers of a direct confrontation have fallen on deaf ears.

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