Macron on a possible sending of Western troops to Ukraine: “Nothing must be excluded to avoid Russian victory” |  International

Macron on a possible sending of Western troops to Ukraine: “Nothing must be excluded to avoid Russian victory” | International

Macron on a possible sending of Western troops to Ukraine: “Nothing must be excluded to avoid Russian victory” |  International

French President Emmanuel Macron and his European partners wanted to send a message to Russian Vladimir Putin this Monday: Europe, two years after the large-scale attack against Ukraine, is neither tired of war nor will it allow it’s up to Russia to win it. . Because after Ukraine, according to Macron, members of the EU or NATO could be the next Russian targets. Western engagement in kyiv could go so far as to break a taboo: sending troops.

“Today, there is no consensus to officially, assertively and decisively send land forces,” Macron said at a press conference following a summit bringing together 27 leaders and ministers. of the European Union and NATO. But he added: “Nothing should be ruled out. “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that Russia cannot win this war.”

The French president clarified that, during the leaders’ conference and the dinner that followed, sending troops was mentioned among the options to strengthen aid to Ukraine. And he defended France’s “strategic ambiguity” on this issue, without specifying whether this country was in favor of it or not.

Before the conference, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico warned that sending troops was on the agenda. Fico, present in Paris, declared that it gave him “chills”.

What is significant is that Macron, in summarizing the debates, considered this to be a plausible hypothesis, even worth mentioning. He recalled that in the winter of 2022, there had been talk of sending “sleeping bags and helmets” and that “today, we are saying that we must send missiles and tanks”. And he said: “Anything is possible if it helps to achieve our goal. »

Other initiatives of the conference include the joint issuance of debt securities to finance military aid to Ukraine, proposed by Estonia, and the purchase of ammunition from third countries to send to the Ukrainian armed forces . It was also decided to create a coalition to strengthen the supply of medium and long-range missiles.

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“Russia, from the beginning, cannot and must not win this war in Ukraine, for Ukraine itself,” Macron said at the summit’s opening. “Second, we guarantee our collective security, today and tomorrow. »

The French president recalled recent Russian cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns, and added, regarding a future military threat beyond Ukraine: “The consensus, the collective analysis (among the participants) is that in a few years we will have to prepare for “attacks by Russia against these countries”. “.

Europe, according to this analysis, must help Ukraine, because a Russian victory would encourage Putin to attack more countries. The argument is that by defending Ukraine with military and economic assistance, you are defending Europe.

In a recorded message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Together we must ensure that Putin cannot destroy our gains, nor expand his aggression to other nations. »

Commitment to Ukraine

At the meeting, the leaders attempted to refute Western pessimism about the progress of the fighting. And they showed their commitment to the country under attack. But they face growing doubts about their ability to provide on time and in the necessary quantities the weapons and munitions Ukraine needs to stop the Russian advance.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez were present at the conference, but not Italian Giorgia Meloni. The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – NATO partners but not the EU – were represented by an undersecretary of state in the American case and by ministers in the other two.

The call, improvised by Macron in a hurry, responded to the urgency of the moment. An immediate reason: the blocking of aid in the American Congress, which leaves the Europeans alone in aid to Ukraine. And another in the medium term: the hypothesis according to which, with a victory for Donald Trump in the presidential elections in November, the leading world power would disengage from Europe.

“If we do not give ourselves the means to do both more and better (for Ukraine), we risk ceding too much space to the Russians,” declared an advisor to the French president on the eve of the summit. , who requested anonymity. The objective of the summit is twofold, according to the advisor: “to signal very clearly to President Putin that, firstly, he will not win, and secondly, that we are not tired, that we are totally determined. »

The internal European context also matters, with the legislative elections in June in sight and the peasant mobilizations. One of the reasons for these protests – and all the more significant as they get closer to the EU border with Ukraine – is the rejection of competition from Ukrainian agricultural products and the fear of the entry of this country in the EU.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in accordance with a G7 decision last July, signed security agreements with Ukraine this winter. Although the agreements commit them to helping the attacked country over the next ten years, they do not replace the mutual defense obligation that NATO membership would represent.

One of the points discussed by leaders in Paris is how to speed up the production of munitions for Ukraine or their purchase from third countries. “We need to be able to deliver more shells,” believes the aforementioned Elysée advisor. “We will purchase howitzers where they are available.”

In the background of the meeting, a discussion was planned on the question of who provides more or less aid to Ukraine. France, which appears in a worse position than Germany in the ranking established by the Kiel Economic Institute, defends that it is necessary to quantify not only the economic value of weapons, but also their effectiveness in the theater of war.

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