Nato allies rule out sending troops to Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron had said on Monday that Western allies should exclude no options in seeking to avert a Russian victory in Ukraine

By REUTERS
February 28, 2024
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference. — AFP/File

BERLIN/MOSCOW: The United States and key European allies said on Tuesday they had no plans to send ground troops to Ukraine, after France hinted at the possibility, and the Kremlin warned that any such move would inevitably lead to conflict between Russia and Nato.

Advertisement

French President Emmanuel Macron had said on Monday that Western allies should exclude no options in seeking to avert a Russian victory in Ukraine, though he stressed there was no consensus at this stage.

His comments, made at a hastily convened meeting of European leaders in Paris on ways to boost flagging support for Kyiv, come amid battlefield gains by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces in eastern Ukraine as well as growing shortages of ammunition and manpower on the Ukrainian side.

However, Germany, Britain, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic distanced themselves from any suggestion they might commit ground troops to the Ukraine war, now in its third year.

“...There will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil sent there by European countries or NATO states,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius was equally adamant.

“Boots on the ground is not an option for Germany,” Pistorius told reporters during a visit to Vienna.

The White House later reiterated that it too had no plan to send ground troops, instead urging US lawmakers to approve a stalled security aid bill that would ensure Ukrainian troops got the weapons and ammunition needed to continue their fight.Seeking to clarify Macron’s remarks, French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said on Tuesday the president had in mind sending troops for specific tasks such as helping on mine clearance, production of weapons on site, and cyberdefence.

“(This) could require a (military) presence on Ukrainian territory, without crossing the threshold of fighting,” Sejourne told French lawmakers.

Scholz did say that European leaders now appeared willing after Monday’s talks to procure weapons from countries outside Europe as a way of speeding up military aid to Ukraine.

Germany has become the second biggest supplier of military aid to Kyiv since Russia launched its full-blown invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, but is extremely wary of steps that would draw the Nato alliance into direct conflict with Russia.The Kremlin issued a swift warning about what was at stake.

“The very fact of discussing the possibility of sending certain contingents to Ukraine from Nato countries is a very important new element,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, commenting on Macron’s remarks.

Asked about the risks if Nato members did deploy troops to fight in Ukraine, Peskov said: “In that case, we would need to talk not about the probability, but about the inevitability (of a direct conflict).”

Advertisement