Will French Troops Be Sent to Ukraine?

French troops are deployed to Lithuania. Could Ukraine be next?
French troops are deployed to Lithuania. Could Ukraine be next?

By David Sole

The threat by French President Emmanuel Macron, on February 26, to send troops to fight in Ukraine has unleashed a flood of media attention around the world. Some media originally dismissed the statement, but it should not be taken lightly. As Ukraine’s position on the battlefield continues to be pushed back by the Russian Federation forces, escalation by the U.S. and NATO allies is a very real possibility.

Macron made his remarks following a meeting on Ukraine of leaders of over 20 countries held in Paris. The response from Russian leaders was not long in coming. The very next day Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was reported as saying that Western troop involvement in Ukraine would inevitably lead to a direct conflict between NATO and Russia.

On March 19 the Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service asserted that he had evidence “that France is preparing a military contingent of 2,000 troops to be sent to Ukraine.” TASS News Agency quoted Sergey Naryshkin as stating that if such a force is sent “it will thus become a legitimate priority target for attacks by the Russian armed forces. This means it will suffer the fate of all the French who have ever come to the Russian world with a sword” harking back to the fate of Napoleon’s armies over two centuries ago.

Western news media have also aired reports of French preparations. The Express in the United Kingdom, no friend of Russia, reported on March 20 that “General Pierre Schill, France’s ground forces chief, suggested that France could mobilize 20,000 troops within 30 days to support Ukraine’s war effort.” General Schill had published an op-ed piece in Le Monde which also speculated that up to 60,000 troops, including allies, could be deployed rapidly.

On March 22 it was reported that General Thierry Burkhard, chief of staff of France’s armed forces chimed in to echo Macron’s earlier remarks. Radio France Internationale reported that General Burkhard warned “Russia should not expect the West to limit its support for Ukraine to supplying arms.”

Pressure is building among the hawks in the West as Russian forces are following up on their victory in driving Ukrainian troops from their fortified city of Avdeyevka. A fall back defense line, west of Avdeyevka, based on a trio of villages, has been under heavy attack. Two of the towns have already fallen and analysts predict the third will soon be overrun. Other areas along the hundreds of miles of the front are also threatened by Russian pressure.

Hawks in France and other NATO allies, including U.S. President Joe Biden, are still refusing to allow their Ukraine proxies to start negotiations with Russia. They are still scrounging up weapons and ammunition for the war and are pushing Ukraine to extend its call up to younger troops. The Western leaders are still willing to sacrifice as many Ukrainians as it takes to weaken Russia, even if the Ukrainians have no hope of winning the conflict.

Under such conditions it is entirely conceivable that French and other NATO allied troops could be sent in to try to reverse Russia’s gains.


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