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French defense minister says no plans to deploy combat troops in Ukraine

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 8, 2024 11:38 AM 2 min read
French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu in Kyiv on Sept. 28, 2023. (Sergei Chuzavkov /AFP via Getty Images)
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French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said the notion of sending combat troops to Ukraine is "not on the table" in an interview with the French broadcaster BFMTV on March 8.

The comments came after French President Emmanuel Macron recently said that sending Western troops to Ukraine cannot be "ruled out" in the future. The U.S. and many European allies have distanced themselves from Macron’s statement.

Lecornu said that while the deployment of combat troops is not currently being discussed, there is the possibility that France will send military personnel to Ukraine to train Ukrainian troops or participate in mine-clearing operations.

French arms manufacturers are planning to set up partnerships with Ukrainian companies and produce military equipment, potentially including ammunition, on Ukrainian soil, Lecornu added.

“We are no longer in the same situation as two years ago," he said, emphasizing that "We don't want to show weakness to Moscow."

Czech President Petr Pavel also said recently that he is in favor of looking for new ways to support Ukraine, including potentially sending troops for "non-combat engagement."

The Czech leader reportedly emphasized that he was not talking about sending combat units. According to Pavel, Kyiv’s allies could send a training mission to Ukraine.

"Ukraine, despite being attacked, is still a sovereign country," he said, adding that such a training mission would not violate any international norms.

"It's up to us what form of assistance we choose," Pavel said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, as well as leaders of Germany, the U.K., Sweden, Poland, and other European NATO member states, ruled out sending Western troops to Ukraine.

During a two-hour State of the Nation address on Feb. 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened "tragic consequences" if NATO troops were sent to Ukraine, claiming the West's support for Kyiv "risks a conflict using nuclear weapons."

West’s response to Macron comments on troops to Ukraine reveal discord, weakness, experts say
French President Emmanuel Macron was left on his lonesome by his fellow European allies after saying that the possibility of sending Western troops on the ground in Ukraine should not be “ruled out” in the future. Macron made the remarks on Feb. 26 at a gathering of 20 European heads
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