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Macron advocates strategic ambiguity in French troop decisions for Ukraine

Macron advocates for strategic ambiguity about a possibility of French military involvement in Ukraine, emphasizing it as crucial for deterring Russian aggression and enhancing European security.
French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron. Credit: Ukraine’s Presidential Office
Macron advocates strategic ambiguity in French troop decisions for Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron has advocated for strategic ambiguity regarding the possibility to deploy French troops in Ukraine amid the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. In an interview with La Tribune Dimanche and La Provence, Macron emphasized the importance of keeping options open to maintain deterrence and secure European security.

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.

The strategic ambiguity lies in not being too specific. Russia, as a strategic power, is no longer giving us any visibility. It decided unilaterally in February 2022 to attack a sovereign state, Ukraine, and therefore to disregard international law and the United Nations Charter,” Macron said.

Russia initially claimed a strategic objective of saving “Ukrainian provinces (oblasts) that had declared their autonomy,” Macron said implying Crimea, and the oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, and Russia’s sham independence referendums in their occupied parts, “but that stance has shifted. It now aims to resolutely become a destabilizing power without strategic limits on its actions, with President Putin frequently brandishing the nuclear threat,” Macron says.

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

Macron argued that giving Russia clarity and self-imposing limits would undermine the ability to deter its further aggression:

Facing such an adversary, how weak it is to set limits a priori, how weak! On the contrary, we must take away all visibility from it because that is what creates deterrent capabilities. The security of Europeans is at stake in Ukraine because it is 1,500 kilometers from our borders,” the French President noted. “If Russia prevails, the very next second, there will no longer be security possible in Romania, Poland, Lithuania, and neither in our own countries. The capacity and range of Russian ballistic missiles expose us all.”

Regarding Macron’s earlier interview with The Economist, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it was a ‘very dangerous trend’ for France to constantly talk about the possibility of its direct involvement in the war.

Commenting on this, Macron said he believes that Russia’s “feverishness” underlines the correctness of France’s position “not to close any doors,” adding that “Otherwise, it would mean agreeing to give up on an international order based on law, and therefore on peace and security.”

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