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1 Mar, 2024 17:30

France considering placing Special Forces in Ukraine – Le Monde

Paris is contemplating sending a small force into Ukrainian territory to pose a “strategic dilemma” for Moscow, the French outlet has claimed
France considering placing Special Forces in Ukraine – Le Monde

The French government is mulling sending a small military force directly into Ukraine to serve as instructors for Kiev’s Armed Forces and as a “deterrent” to Moscow, newspaper Le Monde reported on Friday, citing its sources.

The paper did not disclose the number of French military ‘instructors’ that could potentially be authorized to cross into Ukrainian territory but reported that their ranks could include some “conventional units.”

According to Le Monde, France’s Special Forces were also involved in training Ukrainian soldiers in neighboring Poland and in escorting the nation’s arms deliveries to Kiev. They have, however, always “stopped at the Ukrainian border,” the outlet added. 

The training France would like to provide to Ukrainians “on the ground” includes handling air defense systems, Friday’s report said. Kiev’s surface-to-air weapons installations are frequently targeted by Russian forces, it explained, adding that the “presence of French soldiers or [those] of other nations would potentially protect certain areas of the Ukrainian territory.”

The French government allegedly views such a troop deployment as a way of posing a “strategic dilemma” for Moscow, the paper said, adding that it could “constrain” Russia’s targeting and strike capabilities. In particular, it may prove to be “essential” ahead of the arrival of US-made F-16 fighter jets, scheduled to take place later this year, the French daily added.

So far, France has denied that any of its troops have been present in Ukraine during the conflict, the media outlet said. French President Emmanuel Macron sparked controversy on Monday when he told journalists that a potential NATO troop deployment to Ukraine could not be ruled out in the future.

“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.”

Macron’s comments prompted other members of the US-led bloc, including the US, UK, Germany and Italy, to clarify that they had no such plans. The French president’s remarks were seemingly supported by two Baltic nations – Estonia and Lithuania – who also said that such a move could not be ruled out.

Moscow warned in response that deploying NATO forces to Ukraine would make a direct conflict between Russia and the military bloc inevitable. On Friday, French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne denied that Paris was planning to send any combat units to Ukraine, adding that it would do “everything” to avoid a war with Russia.

The French president himself doubled down on his comments on Thursday by saying his words had been “thought through and measured.”