Friday, April 12, 2024

Several NATO states refuse to back France talk of sending forces to Ukraine

The UK, Germany, Finland and Sweden all spoke up on Tuesday against French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Western troops could be deployed to Ukraine amid Russia's military operation.

While there was no consensus about sending ground forces, Macron said on Monday following a pro-Ukraine summit in Paris that “in terms of dynamics, we cannot exclude anything” in the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

There are “no plans for NATO combat troops on the ground in Ukraine,” the secretary-general of the US-led bloc, Jens Stoltenberg, told AP in response to Macron’s remarks.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not rule out sending troops in principle, but his spokesperson told reporters that “beyond the small number of personnel in [the] country supporting the armed forces [of Ukraine], we do not have any plans to make a large-scale deployment.”

Deploying troops is “not on the cards at all for the moment,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told the public broadcaster SVT, adding that “for the moment, we’re busy sending advanced equipment to Ukraine”. Stockholm pledged military aid worth 7.1 billion kronor ($682 million) to Kiev last week.

Kristersson also said there is currently “no demand” from Ukraine for Western ground troops.

There was a “widely shared” perception at the summit in Paris against the use of NATO ground troops, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told the outlet Yle.

He added that this is also Finland’s position.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was even more categorical, declaring that there will be “no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil, who are sent there by European or NATO countries” in the future.

The US and its allies have sent over $200 billion worth of financial, military, and material aid to the Ukrainian government since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022, vowing to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Moscow while insisting they are not actually a party to the hostilities. Russia’s repeated warnings about the dangers of a direct confrontation have fallen on deaf ears.

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