An immediate outcry.

Faced with Emmanuel Macron's declaration on the possible sending of Western troops to Ukraine, his European allies and the French opposition stood unanimously against this possibility on Tuesday February 27.

Monday evening, after a meeting at the Élysée, the French president declared that the sending of troops could not "be excluded", recognizing however the absence of current consensus. 

Comments made at the end of an international conference in support of Ukraine, organized urgently in Paris, where the Twenty-Seven were present.

Emmanuel Macron also stressed that "Many people who say 'Never, never' today were the same people who said 'Never tanks, never planes, never long-range missiles' two years ago".

In any case, the reaction was not long in coming from Berlin, France's main partner.

“No soldier will be sent” to Ukrainian soil either by European states or by those of NATO, insisted Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

His Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, mentioned “a proposal for reflection from President Macron that apparently no one has followed”. 

“No plans” from NATO

On the United Kingdom side, a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak specified that "a small number" of people sent by London were already there "to support the Ukrainian armed forces, particularly in terms of medical training", adding: “We do not plan a large-scale deployment.”

Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries have also rejected the idea of ​​sending troops to Ukraine.

Madrid "does not agree" with the idea of ​​"deploying European troops in Ukraine", according to the spokesperson for the Spanish executive, Pilar Alegria.

Warsaw and Prague also rejected the possibility outlined by Paris.

Budapest, the only capital among the Twenty-Seven to have maintained close ties with Moscow after the launch of the invasion two years ago, has unsurprisingly rejected sending weapons and troops to Ukraine.

The head of Hungarian diplomacy, Peter Szijjarto, affirmed that we must “end the war and not deepen and widen it”. 

The Italian government has reaffirmed that Western aid to Ukraine "does not foresee" the deployment of European or NATO troops.

The head of Italian diplomacy, Antonio Tajani, called for caution, stressing that the objective is “not to appear as being at war with Russia”.

Read alsoAid to Ukraine: despite “politician” blockages, “Westerners remain mobilized”

NATO, for its part, confirmed its military support for Ukraine but rejected the sending of troops on the ground.

An Alliance official told AFP that there were "no plans" for direct NATO intervention in the conflict.

For its part, the Kremlin reacted firmly to Emmanuel Macron's comments, affirming that it was "absolutely not in the interest" of these countries.

Dmitri Peskov, spokesperson for the Russian presidency, described this possibility as a "very important new element" in the conflict, stressing that there was "no consensus" on the subject among Westerners.  

Avalanches of reactions in France

In France, opposition from all sides, from La France insoumise to the National Rally, including the socialists and the right, have condemned the “madness” of military engagement.

Just after the president's statements, the leader of France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, notably considered that "war against Russia would be madness".

LFI deputy François Ruffin criticized the head of state for “improvising”.

The communists said, through the voice of the deputy Pierre Dharrévillle, “worried” and “shocked by a form of lightness”. 

"Everything is possible", "nothing should be excluded"... When you are the head of a nuclear power, you do not improvise on these issues during a press conference.

We are discussing it with the Assembly.

We set a course: support for Ukraine, without setting the region or the… ablaze

— François Ruffin (@Francois_Ruffin) February 27, 2024

Even the left in favor of military aid to kyiv has distanced itself from the possibility outlined by Emmanuel Macron.

The first secretary of the PS Olivier Faure, also judging that a war with Russia would be “madness”, requested a meeting with political leaders.

More firm against Vladimir Putin, Raphaël Glucksmann, head of the socialist list in the European elections, proposed to “massively increase military aid to Ukraine” to avoid sending troops. 

On the far right, Marine Le Pen (RN) criticized the president for “playing warlord” when “it is the lives of our children that he is talking about with such carelessness”.

The president of the RN, Jordan Bardella, accused Emmanuel Macron of “losing his cool”. 

Same condemnation among Les Républicains.

The leader of the LR senators, Bruno Retailleau, described France's entry into war against Russia as "madness with incalculable consequences".  

Stunned to hear the President of the Republic mention, during an intervention, the possibility of sending French troops to the Ukrainian front.

One of two things: either it is an empty word, but it would be such a serious inconsistency on the part of the...

— Bruno Retailleau (@BrunoRetailleau) February 27, 2024

Faced with the wave of criticism, the Élysée announced a debate and a vote in Parliament on the question of support for kyiv.

The head of state asked the government to make a declaration "relating to the bilateral security agreement concluded with Ukraine" on February 16, followed by a debate and a vote, the date of which has not been determined. been clarified. 

In the process, the head of French diplomacy, Stéphane Séjourné, clarified the president's controversial remarks.

He asserted that such an intervention would not cross "the threshold of belligerence" and that the actions envisaged would be limited to mine clearance, cyber and weapons production.

So no troops intended to fight directly against the Russians.

With AFP

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