Emmanuel Macron calls on Ukraine’s allies for a “start” and does not rule out sending Western troops in the future

Emmanuel Macron on Monday called on Ukraine’s allies meeting in Paris for a “start” to ensure the “defeat” of Russia, announcing new measures to provide more weapons to Kiev and refusing to exclude the option of a sending of Western troops in the future. This conference hastily organized by the French president, in the presence of twenty-seven other countries, comes at a critical moment for Ukraine, awaiting the Western weapons necessary for its survival.

“We are certainly at the moment of a start which is necessary on the part of all of us”, launched Emmanuel Macron at the opening of this summit in front of several European heads of state and government, including the German Olaf Scholz , the Pole Andrzej Duda and the Slovak Robert Fico, as well as the head of British diplomacy David Cameron and American and Canadian representatives. His Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky set the scene from a distance, deploring having “unfortunately” received only 30% of the “million shells that the European Union” had “promised” to Ukraine.

“It is clear that we did not have this million,” replied Emmanuel Macron at the end of the evening to the press, referring to a “reckless commitment”.

Czech initiative

However, “we are convinced that the defeat of Russia is essential for security and stability in Europe”, he insisted. He listed several measures to amplify the effort in favor of the Ukrainian army, at a time when the conflict has just entered its third year and when American aid, crucial for kyiv, is blocked in Congress by the Republicans of Donald Trump. Emmanuel Macron spoke of a commitment to “produce more” European weapons, and announced the creation of a “coalition for deep strikes” in order to provide Kiev with “medium and long range missiles and bombs “. He also explained that “many European and non-European countries which have ammunition available” had been “approached”.

According to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, around fifteen countries have said they are ready to join a Prague initiative for the EU to buy munitions outside Europe to better support the Ukrainian war effort. “This is a very strong message sent to Russia,” he said. France will participate, while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte mentioned a contribution from his country of “more than 100 million euros” to this Czech plan.

The countries present at the Elysée must now meet around the French Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs to “operationally decline” these initiatives.

“Serious agenda”

“In ten days, we will have a clear answer with a serious agenda,” promised Emmanuel Macron, who must go to Ukraine by mid-March. Above all, the French president was more offensive than ever when he was questioned about the possibility that Western countries would decide to send troops to Ukrainian soil – an option mentioned, to denounce it, by the Slovak Prime Minister . “There is no consensus today to send ground troops in an official, assumed and endorsed manner. But dynamically, nothing must be excluded. We will do everything necessary to ensure that Russia cannot not win this war”, affirmed Emmanuel Macron, saying he was “assuming” a “strategic ambiguity”.

“War against Russia would be madness”, reacted on X the leader of La France insoumise Jean-Luc Mélenchon, judging Emmanuel Macron’s declarations “irresponsible”. “Emmanuel Macron plays the war leader but it is the lives of our children that he talks about with such carelessness,” Marine Le Pen was alarmed. The first secretary of the PS Olivier Faure denounced a “worrying presidential levity”: “Support the Ukrainian resistance yes. Go to war with Russia and drag the continent in. Madness”.

Since receiving Volodymyr Zelensky ten days ago at the Elysée to sign a bilateral security agreement, the French head of state has painted a very dark picture of Vladimir Putin’s intentions and has tried to position himself on the front line of the support provided to Kiev. “We are seeing, and particularly in recent months, a hardening of Russia”, “which was unfortunately cruelly illustrated with the death of Alexeï Navalny”, the main Russian opponent, he reaffirmed on Monday.

He also reported a “consensus” among many European leaders and personalities on the fact “that within a few years, we had to prepare for Russia to attack” their countries. “On the Ukrainian front, positions are becoming increasingly harsh and we also know that Russia is preparing new attacks, in particular to stun Ukrainian public opinion,” he warned. The Ukrainians have been accumulating setbacks in the East for several weeks, notably with the loss more than a week ago of the fortress town of Avdiïvka, and, on Monday, their withdrawal from the village of Lastochkyné, near there.

For the French presidency, the Paris conference therefore aimed to “contradict the impression that things are falling apart, to reaffirm that we are not tired and that we are determined to thwart Russian aggression”.

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