France again floats idea of sending non-combat troops to Ukraine


LONDON — France’s foreign minister has suggested that Western countries should be considering the idea that NATO troops should perhaps be deployed to Ukraine in non-combat roles to assist Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Stéphane Sejourne in France’s parliament on Wednesday elaborated further, saying NATO troops could potentially be deployed into Ukraine to assist with roles such as “demining, cyber operations or weapons production.”

This statement follows President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Tuesday, saying Western troop deployments to Ukraine should “not be ruled out.”

Macron said troops could do such actions without “crossing the threshold of belligerence” and such things should not be ruled out given Russia’s efforts to destabilize Europe.

France’s suggestions have been firmly rebuffed by some key European states but it appears there is a real growing push among some European countries to at least discuss the possibility of providing more direct military assistance, something that had been previously been taboo.

The Netherlands defense ministry also didn’t rule it out on Tuesday and Macron, along with Slovakia’s prime minister, have both said publicly some countries are actively discussing it.

This development underlines how an understanding seems to be rapidly emerging in Europe that it needs to take its own major steps to counteract Russian success in Ukraine as American aid is at risk of collapse and a Putin victory no longer seems impossible.

In part, the more assertive public stance from France and other countries seems intended to establish some “strategic ambiguity” with Russia instead of telegraphing what the West won’t do and, therefore, giving Putin broad lines to operate in. In other words, parts of Europe are trying to toughen up the line to make Putin think twice.

There is a dawning sense, however, that Europe needs to do more and for Ukraine and figure out alternative methods to deter the Kremlin, especially considering the open secret that Western special forces — at the very least from the U.S. and U.K. — are already on the ground assisting Ukraine covertly.

Those who support the idea suggest Western military personnel could bolster Ukraine’s air defenses and free up Ukrainian troops if they were stationed in the rear for example.

While these plans are not on the cards in the immediate sense, even the discussions show a significant shift regarding how concerned European governments are becoming at the sudden prospect of a potential victory in some form for Putin in Ukraine.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.