Monday, June 17, 2024

Biden overruled Macron on troop deployment in Ukraine: Report

US President Joe Biden has blocked a proposal by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to dispatch Western instructors to train Kiev’s forces in Ukraine, Politico has reported.

Biden expressed concerns about the possible consequences of sending NATO troops to a country where they could end up in the line of fire, potentially sparking an escalation of the conflict, according to an article published on Friday, which cited two people familiar with a recent phone call between the two leaders.

Several news outlets had previously reported that Macron had been trying to form a coalition of Western countries with the aim of sending NATO specialists to Ukraine to help train the country’s forces, particularly in the areas of mine clearance and equipment maintenance.

Paris has not officially confirmed or denied the plans, with Macron stating that he would not comment on “decisions that are yet to be made.” However, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stated there was “no taboo” on sending military instructors to Ukraine, pointing out that French instructors had already trained some 10,000 Ukrainian troops both in France and on the territory of its neighbors.

NATO member states in the Baltic region, such as Lithuania and Estonia, have backed the idea and expressed their readiness to send instructors to Ukraine.

Kiev has all but confirmed Macron’s plan, with the country’s top commander Aleksander Syrsky stating that he had already completed the paperwork to allow French instructors to visit and use Ukrainian training facilities. Senior Ukrainian lawmaker Aleksey Goncharenko also claimed that the first group of French military specialists were already en route to the country.

Russia has repeatedly warned that any foreign military personnel in Ukraine would be considered legitimate targets for strikes, regardless of where they are from and whether they are soldiers or instructors.

“The fact is that any instructors who are involved in training the military of the Ukrainian regime do not have any immunity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week, adding that it “doesn’t matter whether they are French or not”.

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