French Defense Chief Won’t Rule Out Ukraine Deployment

by | Mar 9, 2024

French Defense Chief Won’t Rule Out Ukraine Deployment

by | Mar 9, 2024

France Defense Minister

FILE PHOTOS: French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu (Credit: AFP / Anwar Amro); A Ukrainian soldier sweeps for mines. (Credit: Ukrainian Defense Ministry)

France’s defense minister said Paris is still exploring its options for a military presence in Ukraine, but stressed that troops would not have a direct combat role. The comments came after French opposition leaders warned that President Emmanuel Macron is planning to step up the country’s involvement in the war.

Speaking to local broadcaster BFMTV on Friday, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu explained that while Macron did not intend to become a “co-belligerent” in the conflict, France could still deploy forces to perform other tasks in Ukraine.

“Between the transfer of arms and co-belligerence – in other words direct war with Russia – have we done everything within that space? Are there paths that we can explore? And notably paths involving a military presence?” he said, suggesting French soldiers could assist with mine-clearance or training troops on Ukrainian soil.

“The more Ukraine needs to conscript, to raise up its army, the greater the need will be to ramp up training,” the minister continued, also noting that three French military contractors would soon begin producing weapons inside the country.

Lecornu’s remarks followed a meeting between President Macron and French party leaders one day prior, after which multiple opposition figures sounded alarms about the risk of direct military intervention in Ukraine.

According to Fabien Roussel, national secretary of the French Communist Party, during the meeting Macron outlined a scenario “which could initiate an intervention,” and proposed a troop deployment should Russian forces advance “towards Odessa or towards Kiev.” He did not say whether that would involve combat operations.

Speaking after the same meeting, National Rally leader Jordan Bardella warned that Macron had “no limits and no red lines,” while La France Insoumise coordinator Manuel Bompard said he “arrived worried” and “left more worried.”

“I reiterated our total opposition to the commitment of ground troops,” said Eric Ciotti, who heads the Gaullist Les Republicains party.

Green party head Marine Tondelier echoed those comments, saying she found the discussion “extremely worrying.” She added that the president told party leaders there must be “no limits” to France’s involvement in the war.

Following a conference of European leaders late last month, Macron stirred controversy after suggesting Western powers were still considering troop deployments in Ukraine. While he said there was currently “no consensus” on the move, he added that “nothing can be ruled out.”

His comments triggered denials from several NATO states and the alliance itself, each insisting there were no plans to send troops to the Ukrainian battlefield. Lithuania later echoed Macron’s sentiment, however, with Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis saying “nothing can be taken off the table, no option can be rejected out of hand.”

Despite the repeated denials, intelligence documents leaked last year by Massachusetts Air National Guard airman Jack Teixeira indicate NATO forces are active in Ukraine already, with one file stating that 97 special operators were on the ground as of March 2023. 

A February report by the New York Times also outlined extensive CIA operations in the country before, during and after Russia’s 2022 invasion, while Britain recently acknowledged that a “small number” of its troops were “supporting the armed forces of Ukraine.” A leaked conversation between German military officers appeared to confirm the British presence, with the officers heard saying UK soldiers were helping to operate long-range missiles supplied to Kiev.

About Will Porter

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Find more of his work at Consortium News, ZeroHedge and RT.

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