Macron says France working to ‘finalize’ plan to send troops to Ukraine

9:14 13.06.2024 •


French President Emmanuel Macron said France was working to “finalize a coalition” of NATO countries that are willing to send troops to Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces, a step that would mark a huge escalation in the proxy war.

During a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris, Macron said Ukraine’s request for NATO trainers was “legitimate” and downplayed the risk of escalation.

“It’s much more efficient and practical for certain capacities in certain conditions to train on Ukrainian soil, it’s a legitimate request,” Macron said. “We’re going to use the coming days to finalize the broadest possible coalition.” He added that several NATO countries have already agreed to the plan.

Moscow has said that any French trainers deployed to Ukraine would be legitimate targets of the Russian military, but Macron dismissed the warning. “Who would we be to give in to the invocations or threats of Russia?”

The talk of sending French troops to Ukraine has highlighted the fact that there are already a small number of NATO special operations soldiers inside Ukraine (97 as of March 2023), but a larger public deployment will take NATO involvement in the war to another level.

The advancement of France’s plans to send troops to Ukraine comes after the US gave Ukraine the greenlight to strike Russian territory with US-provided missiles, which also risks a major response from Russia. So far, the Biden administration has said it has no plans to send trainers to Ukraine, but it has taken escalatory steps that it’s previously ruled out throughout the conflict.


A senior Ukrainian Air Force official said that Ukraine plans to keep some of the Western-provided US-made F-16 fighter jets that it will receive at foreign military bases to protect them from Russian strikes, an arrangement that risks provoking Russian attacks on NATO territory.

“There are a certain number of aircraft that will be stored at secure air bases, outside of Ukraine, so that they are not targeted here,” said Brig. Gen. Serhiy Holubtsov, the chief of aviation in Ukraine’s air force. “And this will be our reserve in case of need for replacement of faulty planes during routine maintenance.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have previously warned that NATO bases housing Ukrainian jets that are being used in the war could be potential targets.

“If they are stationed at air bases outside the Ukrainian borders and used in combat, we will have to see how and where to strike the assets used in combat against us,” Putin said last year, according to The Associated Press. “It poses a serious danger of NATO being further drawn into the conflict.”

Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have also noted that F-16s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Lavrov warned that Russia would view them as a nuclear threat.

According to AP, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway have pledged up to 60 F-16s for Ukraine, but none have been delivered so far. The first planes are expected to arrive this summer, and Ukraine may only receive six at first due to delays in training pilots.


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