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17 May, 2024 13:05

Putin redirects questions about French troops in Ukraine to Macron

France’s president is the one who gives orders to his nation’s army, the Russian leader told reporters
Putin redirects questions about French troops in Ukraine to Macron

Questions about any deployment of French troops to Ukraine should be addressed to the commander-in-chief of that country, Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference in China on Friday.

The French leader has tried to maintain what he terms “strategic ambiguity” about possibly putting boots on the ground in Ukraine. This approach was first announced in late February when, after hosting a pro-Kiev gathering in Paris, he declared that he did not rule out such a deployment.

Putin was about to wrap up the press conference when a reporter raised a question about French troops being sent to Ukraine.

“I am not the president of France, am I? Why do you ask me?” he retorted, but the reporter insisted on receiving an answer.

“You get him to answer your question first: whether troops would go there or not. And then we will consider possible consequences of such a move,” Putin suggested.

Macron has argued that keeping the Russian leadership guessing on the issue was essential to France's approach to the Ukraine conflict. Paris is a key donor of weapons to Kiev and claims that preventing a Russian victory is essential for French national security. On Tuesday, the Elysee Palace announced that more assistance will be arriving in Ukraine soon.

Kiev’s forces have suffered a series of setbacks on the battlefield this year, following last year’s failed counteroffensive that sought to break through Russian defense lines using Western-provided heavy weapons. Last Friday, Moscow ramped up its pressure by launching an operation in the northern Kharkov Region, which has put Ukrainian defenses “on the edge,” according to Kiev’s military command.

During the same press conference, Putin said the Russian military had no intention of capturing Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, but is acting to create a buffer zone to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks with artillery and drones. Russia’s Belgorod Region, which borders Ukraine, has been regularly subjected to shelling by Kiev’s forces, including the city of Belgorod itself.