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France mulled ‘boots on the ground’ in Ukraine for months – Le Monde

President Emmanuel Macron’s transition from dove to hawk began last summer, the newspaper wrote

The idea of sending Western troops to Ukraine was secretly discussed in Paris as early as last June, months before French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to keep all options on the table to defeat Russia, according to Le Monde.

The subject was raised at a defense council at the Elysee Palace in June 2023, soon after Kiev launched its much-touted counteroffensive, the French newspaper wrote on Thursday.

“The role of the military is to always prepare the maximum number of possible options, in order to help with the political-military decision of the President of the Republic,” Chief of Staff of the French Army, Pierre Schill, told the paper. Macron’s recent public statements are “foremost a political and strategic message” to Russia about France’s “will and commitment,” rather than an escalation, the general argued.

Following a summit of Ukraine’s sponsors hosted in Paris in late February, Macron said there was no consensus on sending troops in any official manner, but claimed that “in terms of dynamics, we cannot exclude anything.”

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French oppose Macron’s Ukraine NATO talk – poll

The controversial statement prompted a wave of objections from NATO members, including the US, UK, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic. The US-led bloc’s chief has declared outright that “NATO has no plans to send troops to Ukraine.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there will be “no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil, who are sent there by European or NATO countries,” and that the bloc’s leaders were “unanimous as far as this question is concerned.”

However, the French leader has stood behind his words, repeatedly reiterating that nothing must be excluded to make sure that Russia is defeated in Ukraine.

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German and French leaders ‘don’t get along’ – Bloomberg

“We must, with determination, will and courage, say that we are ready to use the means to achieve our objective – which is that Russia does not win,” Macron again said in a televised interview to TF1 and France 2 on Thursday. While refusing to draw red lines, Macron said France would never initiate an offensive against Russia, even as he called Moscow an “adversary.”

The latest rift between the leaders of France and Germany has exacerbated an already strained relationship, as Macron allegedly made his comments “against express wishes of Scholz’s office,” Bloomberg wrote early in March.

The heads of the two states are set to meet in Berlin on Friday in an effort to reduce tensions over Ukraine, Politico wrote on Wednesday, while Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will join the meeting later in the day.

 

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