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Macron’s conditions to deploy troops in Ukraine: Russia’s breakthrough and Ukraine’s request

Macron specifies the deployment conditions for French troops in Ukraine: responding to Russian military breakthroughs and acting on formal requests from the Ukrainian government.
President of France Emmanuel Macron during an interview in Paris, aired on Ukrainian TV on 16 March 2024. Screenshot from a Youtube video.
Macron’s conditions to deploy troops in Ukraine: Russia’s breakthrough and Ukraine’s request

In his interview with The Economist, French President Emmanuel Macron remained resolute, refusing to retract his declaration from February that Europe should not rule out deploying troops in Ukraine, and outlined the conditions for deploying France’s military in Ukraine. 

In late February, Macron introduced the possibility of deploying NATO troops in Ukraine, stating that while there was “no consensus” on sending combat personnel, all options for supporting Ukraine should remain open. Several NATO leaders quickly downplayed the likelihood of troops engaging directly on the front lines. Later, some nations mentioned that the deployment of non-combat troops should not be ruled out. Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski said that deploying NATO troops to Ukraine was “not unthinkable,” while Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė endorsed Macron’s strategy of “strategic ambiguity” about the deployment option, suggesting it effectively counters Putin’s unpredictability.

Now, the Economist notes that once concerned about not “humiliating” Moscow, Emmanuel Macron has since become one of Europe’s most vocal hawks.

“If Russia wins in Ukraine, there will be no security in Europe, who can pretend that Russia will stop there?” France’s President said, asking what security would there be for neighboring countries: Moldova, Romania, Poland, Lithuania, and others?

Macron argues that Europe’s ability to deter further Russian aggression amid Russia’s expansionism rests on not defining red lines, which is “the basic condition” of its security.

If the Russians were to break through the front lines, if there were a Ukrainian request, which is not the case today, we would legitimately have to ask ourselves this question,” Macron said regarding the possibility of sending ground troops to Ukraine.

The French president highlighted similar precedents in the past, noting that France sent its troops to help African countries in the Sahel when their leaders asked for assistance.

EU’s long-term security

The Economist further notes that for bolstering Europe’s long-term security, President Macron is developing proposals for a new, binding European security “framework,” which had immediately sparked concerns among many European Atlanticists, suspecting that France aims to weaken NATO and promote its own defense industries under the guise of grand visions. In a 2019 interview with The Economist, Macron referred to NATO as experiencing “brain death.” However, he currently maintains that there is no intention to sideline NATO.

He argues that the US will not always be there to support Europe, leaving the continent with no other option:

We have to get ready to protect ourselves,” Macron said.

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