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16 Mar, 2022 15:30

Sending NATO troops to Ukraine is ‘red line’ – German official

The “clear” position of the German government is that “no NATO soldier” will be sent into Ukraine, a government official has said
Sending NATO troops to Ukraine is ‘red line’ – German official

Sending any NATO military to Ukraine for any purpose should be a “red line,” Steffen Hebestreit, a German government spokesperson, told reporters on Wednesday.

Hebestreit was responding to Poland’s call on Tuesday for a NATO “peacekeeping mission” to Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing military offensive.

The German official said it would be very difficult to distinguish between what would be considered a humanitarian aid operation and what would be seen as a military mission.

No NATO personnel, no NATO soldier to be sent outside of NATO to Ukraine, that is clear,” he said.

This should be a “red line,” Hebestreit stressed, adding there was a “clear and determined” agreed position on the matter within the German, French, and American governments.

Some officials from NATO countries had earlier also expressed skepticism over Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s idea of sending a NATO peacekeeping mission which would be “able to defend itself.” Kaczynski came up with this proposal following his visit to Kiev with the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.

The Dutch and Luxembourg representatives, arriving at an emergency NATO meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, expressed their complete disagreement with the idea, while the Estonian defense minister Kalle Laanet said he was ready to discuss the proposal. Representatives from the UK and Canada said the suggestion would be discussed in Brussels on Wednesday but chose not to go into detail.

The bloc has consistently refused to get directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, despite numerous requests by President Volodymyr Zelensky to set up a no-fly zone over the country. The alliance explained that it would not do so as that would lead to a direct confrontation with Russia. 

Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.