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1 Mar, 2024 15:54

No combat troops will be sent to Ukraine – French Foreign Minister

Paris will do “everything” to avoid a direct conflict with Moscow while continuing to aid Kiev, Stephane Sejourne has said
No combat troops will be sent to Ukraine – French Foreign Minister

No French combat troops will be sent to Ukraine, the country's foreign minister Stephane Sejourne told state broadcaster Radio France Inter on Friday. The clarification comes after several NATO members had reacted adversely to remarks by president Emmanuel Macron that the US-led military bloc could entertain such a possibility in the future.

Paris would not risk a direct conflict, Sejourne said when asked to comment on Macron’s remarks. “Everything we do is to avoid war” between Russia and NATO, the minister said, adding that the French government did not want to increase the level of anxiety among its citizens.

A survey published on Thursday by the French newspaper Le Figaro showed that the vast majority of the French population disapproved of the president’s comments on a potential troop deployment to Ukraine.

“The French will not die for Ukraine,” Sejourne said. He also stated that a framework set by Macron envisaged “preventing Russia from winning without waging a war against Russia.” Earlier, the French president called on fellow NATO members to hurry up and increase their arms and ammunition deliveries to Kiev to presumably ensure Moscow’s “defeat.”

The foreign minister still maintained that Macron’s comments on a potential troop deployment was the right thing to do since they contributed to “strategic ambiguity” and allowed France to be “on the right side of history.” The fact that Macron excluded “nothing” when it came to the aid for Kiev allowed Paris to “send a very clear message to Russia, that we will not give up the fight [for] the Ukrainians.”

On Monday, Macron insisted that the West should stop at nothing to prevent Russia from gaining the upper hand in the Ukraine conflict. “There’s no consensus today to send, in an official manner, troops on the ground,” he said. “In terms of dynamics, we cannot exclude anything. We will do everything necessary to prevent Russia from winning this war.”

His comments prompted France’s major NATO nations, including the US, the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany, to state that they had no such plans as of yet. Some smaller members of the bloc – namely the Baltic states Estonia and Lithuania – appeared to back the French leader by saying that such a move could not be ruled out.

Moscow reacted to Macron’s words by warning that such a move on the part of NATO would make a direct conflict between Russia and the US-led bloc inevitable. On Thursday, Macron said he still stood by his “thought-through and measured” remarks.