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7 Jun, 2024 22:52

Macron building ‘coalition’ to send troops into Ukraine

The French president has claimed that several allies have already agreed to deploy military trainers to the former Soviet republic
Macron building ‘coalition’ to send troops into Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron has gone beyond merely talking about the possibility of deploying NATO troops to Ukraine, taking steps to form a coalition of military trainers who would work inside the former Soviet republic preparing Kiev’s soldiers to fight Russian forces.

“We want to have a coalition for reasons of efficiency, and several of our partners have already given their agreement,” Macron told reporters on Friday in Paris. “We will use the coming days to finalize the largest possible coalition capable of responding to Ukraine’s request.”

Macron did not identify the countries, other than France, that have committed to sending trainers to Ukraine. He argued that dispatching specialists to do training work inside Ukraine should not provoke a Russian response.

“We are not at war with Russia,” Macron said. “We do not want an escalation, but we want to do everything in our power to help Ukraine resist. Is it an escalation if Ukraine asks us to train mobilized soldiers on its soil? No, that does not mean deploying people – European or allied soldiers – on the front line.”

Macron made the comments after hosting a visit by Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky. He announced on Thursday that France will send Mirage 2000 fighter jets to Kiev and train Ukrainian pilots. It will reportedly take until around the end of this year to have pilots ready to fly the warplanes.

French forces have already trained around 10,000 Ukrainian troops in France and other NATO countries. Lithuania and Estonia have also publicly suggested that they would be willing to deploy instructors inside Ukraine. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said last month that NATO trainers were already operating in the battle-torn country.

Russian officials have warned that any foreign military personnel in Ukraine would be considered legitimate targets for attack, regardless of their duties and locations. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Macron’s “belligerent rhetoric” and provocative statements had escalated the Ukraine crisis.

Macron began making public comments about the possibility of troop deployments to Ukraine in February, triggering pushback from some NATO allies and a Kremlin warning that this step would inevitably lead to a direct conflict with Russia. US President Joe Biden reportedly rejected Macron’s proposal to send instructors to Kiev, citing concerns that they could be in the line of fire and spark an escalation.