a message more political than operational behind Emmanuel Macron’s declaration

The sending of Western troops on the ground to Ukraine should not “be ruled out” in the future, the head of state said on Monday February 27. This statement is not an announcement but a very political message.


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Emmanuel Macron answered questions from journalists after the international meeting in Paris, Monday February 26.  (GONZALO FUENTES / POOL)

Until now for France, the conflict in Ukraine was a war “at the gates of Europe” and it was a question of what weapons could be supplied to Ukraine. Now it’s a war “in the heart of Europe”underlined Tuesday, February 27, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, and a commitment of ground troops must not “be excluded”declared Emmanuel Macron after the international meeting Monday evening in Paris.

This is a sensitive change in tone, with the risk of an escalation, at least verbally. Indeed, it seems a long way from the time when Emmanuel Macron wanted to maintain the link with Vladimir Putin, when he explained that it was not necessary to humiliate Russia, at the risk of provoking Ukraine’s incomprehension. The time when France measured the nature of the weapons delivered to Ukraine, precisely so as not to provoke this escalation, is also long gone. A year of war passed before deciding, for example, to transfer tanks to Ukraine since the decision was not taken until January 2023.

Also, it is only from this year that Ukrainian fighter pilots will begin to receive initial training in France. Let us remember on this subject that Paris is not delivering a Mirage while other countries have delivered F-16s.

Show that Paris will never allow itself to be intimidated

However, we must be careful about Emmanuel Macron’s statement. First, he was responding to a journalist’s question about the possible sending of troops: this is not a spontaneous declaration by the French head of state, and it is not a detail. But Emmanuel Macron says it: we are seeing today the hardening of Russia’s positions, which is targeting France and Europe.

Furthermore, Emmanuel Macron’s response is primarily intended to show that Paris will never allow itself to be intimidated or show weakness. The president undoubtedly also has in mind that History will remember from him his ability or not to never give in to the Munich syndrome, when the democracies had given in to Hitlerite power believing to avoid war.

However, there is no question of sending French soldiers to Ukraine tomorrow because there is no consensus, also underlined Emmanuel Macron, but also because France remains in a logic of non-escalation , indicates a diplomatic source.

Other avenues mentioned

During Monday evening’s meeting, several avenues were discussed to further help the Ukrainians, in terms of mine clearance, cyber defense and even the co-production of weapons.

“In this context, should we refrain from having advisors or instructors on site ?”, Renaissance MEP and former Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, asked Tuesday morning on Franceinfo. This would be another step, well before sending troops, synonymous with entry into war.

source site-25