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Poll: Half of French youth willing to fight in Ukraine to defend France

by Dominic Culverwell April 14, 2024 1:03 PM 2 min read
French army personnel step out of a plane at the Mihail Kogqlniceanu air base near Constanta, Romania, on March 3, 2022, a week after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)
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Over half of young French citizens would fight in Ukraine to defend France, according to a poll cited by Le Parisien, a French newspaper, on April 12.

The Institute for Strategic Studies of the Military School (IRSEM) and the General Directorate for International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS) surveyed 2,300 young people aged between 18 and 25 last summer.

The bodies, which are part of France’s Defense Ministry, asked the question: “If the protection of France required the country to engage in the war in Ukraine, would you be ready to defend your country?”

Of the respondents, 51% said yes, including 17% absolutely agreeing and 34% answering “maybe yes.”

Young French citizens also favor deploying French troops to Ukraine more than the older generation. In the survey, 31% of youth thought positively about deploying French troops on the side of Ukraine, while only 17% of those aged more than 50 agreed.

In the face of Russia’s nuclear threats, 69% of participants expressed fears of a nuclear war. Nearly half said it was acceptable to use nuclear weapons against a country during a major war.

With Ukraine facing difficulties on the battlefield, hampered by delayed funding from the U.S. and a weapons deficit, some European countries are growing increasingly concerned that the war could spread.

French President Emmanuel Macron called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine "existential" for France and Europe on March 14. In February, the president said that he would not rule out the possibility of sending Western troops to Ukraine.

Estonia and the Czech Republic have also said Europe should not dismiss the idea of deploying troops for non-combat tasks.

Ukraine has not asked for Western troops but is instead requesting further military aid to help Ukrainian soldiers.

President Volodymyr Zelensky told French broadcaster BFMTV on March 11 that "as long as Ukraine holds, the French army can stay in French territory."

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