NATO–Russia relations

Macron warns Europe's security 'at stake' after uproar over Ukraine ground troops comment

Author: Editors Desk Source: France 24
March 14, 2024 at 16:29
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference at the end of the conference in support of Ukraine, with European leaders and government representatives, at the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, February 26, 2024. © Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuter
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference at the end of the conference in support of Ukraine, with European leaders and government representatives, at the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, February 26, 2024. © Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuter

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that the Europe's security was "at stake" in Ukraine, warning that a Russian victory against Kyiv "would reduce Europe's credibility to zero".

The French president also said Thursday that his country stood ready to ensure that Russia does not win the war in Ukraine, urging allies not to impose limits on assistance.

"If the situation should deteriorate, we would be ready to make sure that Russia never wins that war," Macron said during an interview on French TV, warning that anybody advocating "limits" on aid to Ukraine "chooses defeat".

He said it was important for Europe not to draw red lines, which would signal weakness to the Kremlin and encourage it topush on with its invasion of Ukraine. He refused to give detail on what a deployment to Ukraine might look like.

"I have reasons not to be precise," he said. "I'm not going to give (Putin) visibility."

Macron said France would never initiate an offensive against Russia, and that Paris was not at war with Moscow, despite the fact that Russia had launched aggressive attacks against French interests in and outside France.

"Russia is an adversary," he said, declining to call it an enemy.

He also said he hoped that the time would come one day to negotiate peace with a Russian president "whoever it might be", for the first envisaging the possibility of Putin no longer being in charge in Russia.
 

Polarised politics

In late February, Macron caused an uproar by refusing to rule out the dispatch of Western ground troops to Ukraine. French Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu later said that while the deployment of Western combat troops to fight in Ukraine was not on the table, a greater military presence could include mine clearance and training Ukrainian soldiers on Ukrainian soil.

In France's polarised political landscape, Russia's war against Ukraine has emerged as a major hot-button topic.

The French president has been seeking to hammer home the importance of greater support for Ukraine while trying to cast the country’s far-right Rassemblement National as an ally of the Kremlin. Members of both right-wing and left-wing opposition parties have accused the president of using the conflict to boost his centrist coalition's standing ahead of the European elections in June. 

The European elections are seen as a key milestone ahead of France's next presidential election in 2027, when Le Pen is expected to mount a fourth bid for the top job and Macron cannot stand again due to term limits.

Macron planned to meet on Friday with German 
 

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