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29 Feb, 2024 05:34

France labels Russia a ‘direct threat’

PM Gabriel Attal attributes the loss of French positions in the Sahel to Russian “destabilization”
France labels Russia a ‘direct threat’

Russia has become a menace to France in view of its actions since the onset of the Ukraine conflict, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told the Senate on Wednesday, defending President Emmanuel Macron’s earlier suggestion of potentially sending Western troops to Ukraine.

Macron’s words came after a meeting of Ukraine’s sponsors in Paris on Monday. No consensus was reached on the prospect of sending ground troops to aid Kiev, he told the press. However, the French president promised to stop at nothing to make sure Russia does not win in Ukraine.

Responding to questions in the French Senate about the remarks, Attal insisted that Russia has hardened its stance towards France over the course of the conflict. He accused Moscow of “spreading false information,” while engaging in attempts at destabilization and “cyber attacks.”

“The reality is that Russia is a direct and immediate threat to France on all levels.”

He insisted that the French leader’s statements were “responsible,” and echoed Macron’s view on the need to ramp up military aid to Ukraine, explaining that he may have been speaking of troops being sent to provide technical support to Kiev’s army, rather than to fight. Attal suggested that such a deployment may include training Ukrainian troops in ground-to-air defense, or protecting “certain borders.”

Earlier in February, Paris and Kiev signed a bilateral security pact, similar to Ukraine's agreements with Germany and the UK. While the deal offered no ironclad military obligations, Macron promised Kiev another €3 billion ($3.25 billion) in aid over the course of 2024 as well as “cooperation” in artillery production.

The month prior, Macron announced that France would provide Ukraine with 40 additional SCALP-EG long-range cruise missiles and “hundreds of bombs.” The missiles – a combined British-French endeavor, called “Storm Shadow” by the British – have been used to target and kill Russian civilians in long-range strikes on the Donbass, according to Moscow.

Russia maintains that the flow of Western military aid to Ukraine will not alter the course of the conflict, simply putting off the end while causing unnecessary deaths.