Macron again declines to rule out Western troops in Ukraine, but says they’re not needed now

Macron said that responsibility for prompting such a move would lie with Moscow — ‘It wouldn’t be us’ — and said France would not lead an offensive into Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech before a concert at Saint-Louis des Invalides cathedral in Paris, France, 12 March 2024.Gonzalo Fuentes / POOL (EFE)

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated Thursday his position that sending Western troops into Ukraine should not be ruled out, but said that today’s situation doesn’t require that.

In an interview on French national television Thursday, Macron was asked about the prospect of sending Western troops to Ukraine, which he publicly raised last month in comments that prompted pushback from other European leaders.

“We’re not in that situation today,” he said, but added that “all these options are possible.”

Macron said that responsibility for prompting such a move would lie with Moscow — “It wouldn’t be us” — and said France would not lead an offensive into Ukraine. But he also said “Today, to have peace in Ukraine, we must not be weak.”

Macron’s comments came after the French parliament debated the country’s Ukraine strategy this week. Both the National Assembly and the Senate approved in symbolic votes the 10-year bilateral security agreement signed last month between Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Macron planned to meet on Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Berlin in a summit meant to show unity.

Last month, the French president appeared isolated on the European stage after his remarks at a Paris conference on Ukraine prompted an outcry from other leaders. Scholz, in particular, appeared to contradict Macron, saying participants had agreed there will be “no ground troops” on Ukrainian soil sent by European states.

French officials later sought to clarify Macron’s remarks and tamp down the backlash, while insisting on the need to send a clear signal to Russia that it cannot win in Ukraine.

Scholz on Wednesday appeared dismissive of any speculation of frictions between France and Germany, saying he has a “very good personal relationship” with Macron.

France, Germany and Poland will meet as the so-called Weimar Triangle, and the grouping is especially important now that “we are all so concerned about the terrible consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine,” Scholz said.

Supporting Ukraine “is a very concrete and very practical question of whether there is enough ammunition, enough artillery, enough air defense - many things that play a major role. And discussing and advancing this cooperation once again is what is needed right now,” he said.

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