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4 Apr, 2024 01:14

Russia warns France about deploying troops in Ukraine

The move would “create problems” for Paris, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has said
Russia warns France about deploying troops in Ukraine

Sending troops to Ukraine would be disastrous for France, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told his French counterpart, Sebastien Lecornu, during a rare phone call on Wednesday. 

The one-hour call was the first conversation between the defense chiefs since October 2022.

According to the readout provided by the Russian Defense Ministry, Shoigu warned that France “will create problems for itself” if it sends troops to Ukraine. 

French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly floated the idea of having NATO boots on the ground, suggesting that “all options are possible.” He stressed, however, that Paris has no such plans at the moment. Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said in February that France could at some point send demining and other non-combat personnel. 

Moscow has stated that it will treat Western troops and foreign-supplied weapons systems on Ukrainian soil as legitimate targets. The deployment of foreign forces would be a major escalation, leading to “irreparable consequences,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned last month.

The Russian MOD also said that Shoigu and his French counterpart discussed the potential restart of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. “Readiness for dialogue on Ukraine was noted. The starting points could be based on the Istanbul peace initiative,” it said in a statement, adding that the proposed Swiss-hosted summit would be “useless without Russia’s participation.” 

Lecornu reiterated during the call that “France will continue to support Ukraine as long and as intensely as necessary in its fight for freedom and sovereignty, in order to bring peace and security to the European continent,” according to the French Defense Ministry. 

A source close to Lecornu denied to AFP that the minister had discussed potential Ukraine peace negotiations. “France neither accepted nor proposed anything of the sort,” the source said.

Meaningful peace talks between Russia and Ukraine broke down in the spring of 2022, with both sides accusing each other of making unrealistic demands.