May 23, 2024

French president says in interview that ‘if Russia wins in Ukraine, there will be no security in Europe’.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he has not ruled out sending ground troops to Ukraine if Russia breaks through Ukrainian front lines and the government in Kyiv made such a request.

In an interview with The Economist published on Thursday, Macron reaffirmed his previous statements backing Ukraine in the face of Russia’s battlefield advances.

“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,” he said.

Asked if he stood by comments earlier this year about not excluding the sending of Western troops to Ukraine, Macron said: “Absolutely. As I said, I’m not ruling anything out, because we are facing someone who is not ruling anything out.”

European countries need to protect themselves, the French president said, adding that Russia has been aggressive in destabilising the region, including by threatening to use nuclear weapons.

“I have a clear strategic objective: Russia cannot win in Ukraine,” Macron said.

“If Russia wins in Ukraine, there will be no security in Europe,” he told The Economist. “Who can pretend that Russia will stop there? What security will there be for the other neighbouring countries, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Lithuania and the others?”

In February, following a meeting of 20 European leaders in Paris, Macron had said that while there was no consensus on sending soldiers to Ukraine, “nothing can be ruled out”. His comments drew criticism, shock and anger.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has been wary of drawing NATO into direct conflict with Russia, was quick to rule out any deployment of German or alliance forces into Ukraine.

The United States has said it will not put boots on the ground, but agreed to send long-delayed military aid of $61bn.

France, in February, pledged to deliver more arms, train soldiers in Ukraine and send up to 3 billion euros ($3.21bn) in military aid.

Russia has warned that conflict with NATO would become inevitable if European members of the alliance sent in their soldiers to fight in Ukraine.

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