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4 Mar, 2024 12:44

France proposed sending troops to Ukraine, but NATO refused – Politico

The country’s army chief of staff reportedly approached his coalition peers with the idea weeks ago
France proposed sending troops to Ukraine, but NATO refused – Politico

France suggested deploying NATO troops to Ukraine in order to assist Kiev’s forces with crucial tasks, the former US envoy to the bloc, Ivo Daalder, wrote in an article for Politico news outlet published on Monday.

According to Daalder, the proposal came several weeks ago from the chief of staff of the French Army, General Thierry Burkhard, who wrote to half of his NATO colleagues to ask them to “explore the possibility” of deploying “a coalition of the willing” to Ukraine’s front lines. The troops, Burkhard reportedly said, could man defensive systems on the ground, train troops, launch cyber operations, and provide help in demining.

Burkhard’s proposal was swiftly rejected by “every ally,” Daalder wrote, in line with NATO’s longstanding policy of ‘no troops on the ground in Ukraine’.

The letter was reportedly sent well before French President Emmanuel Macron sparked controversy last week when he told journalists that the idea of deploying NATO troop to Ukraine should not be ruled out.

His comments prompted swift reactions from other NATO nations, including the US, UK, Spain, Italy, and Germany, who rushed to state that they had no such plans. French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne attempted to clarify Macron’s words, telling state broadcaster Radio France Inter last Friday that Paris would not risk either its people or a direct conflict between Russia and NATO.

In his article, Daalder called Macron’s words on troop deployment “another headline-grabbing statement” and an attempt to score geopolitical points, but said the fact that his remarks followed Burkhard’s proposal “may have revealed more serious thinking” regarding efforts to help Ukraine within the alliance.

Kiev has been asking its Western backers for additional funding for months, citing dire shortages in ammunition and weaponry on the front lines. On Sunday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky criticized NATO for the delays in allocating funds to help Kiev’s war effort, making reference to the $60 billion US aid package which has been stalled in Congress for nearly a month.

Moscow has condemned the West for providing military aid to Kiev, warning that it will only prolong the conflict. Commenting on Macron’s statement regarding the idea of deploying troops, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that this type of move on the part of NATO would make a direct conflict between Russia and the bloc inevitable.