Espreso. Global

Allied troops in Ukraine: to be or not to be?

29 February, 2024 Thursday

The high-level conference in support of Ukraine organized by the French president in Paris could have been an ordinary event. One of many others

We are in no way trying to downplay its importance or the ambitious initiative of France to convene it. The moment is indeed extremely important, especially in the context of blocking aid to Kyiv in the US Congress. Ukraine desperately needs weapons and ammunition, and in this sense, France's leadership as a nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and one of the G7 countries has traditionally always been and remains decisive.

Although the agenda of the meeting included a wide range of issues related to support for Ukraine, the Paris Summit will be remembered for something else, namely the comments of the French president, in which he did not rule out the possibility of sending the military of allied countries to help Ukraine.

“Despite the resonance of these assumptions, they cannot be called spontaneous or accidental. After all, the French president had to clarify his words at least three times in a conversation with journalists. The position was clearly expressed and quite understandable even to the uninitiated.”

In addition to the traditional assurances of support for Ukraine "as much as necessary" and "with what is needed," President Macron clearly emphasized that Russia cannot win this war. At least the allies will make every effort to do so. Now we are also discussing the possibility or expediency of sending allied forces to Ukraine.

That is why the Paris Summit is now historical, and the date of February 26, 2024, should be marked red in the history of the Ukrainian-Russian war. Macron's resonant remarks about foreign military forces, which many, but not all, of the participants were quick to deny, were made in this context of not allowing Russia to win. They said that they don't plan to, it's not time, it's never time. But there were those who clearly shared the French president's ideas, including the Baltic states.

Diplomatic wisdom and the experience of years of confrontation with Russia says "never say never." The French president himself, in arguing his words, reminded us that a few years ago, the allies thought of helping Ukraine in terms of "helmets and sleeping bags," and now they are talking more about "missiles and tanks.”

“The situation is changing and evolving positively. This is happening both on the battlefield and in political discourse. Anything that benefits Ukraine and our victory should not be ignored, let alone denied.”

We dare to say that Macron's words have flown and will not be returned. This idea is already taking on a life of its own, both in the information space and in the minds of Western politicians. It will come up again and again in discussions, interviews, meetings, electoral debates, and especially in the run-up to the Washington NATO summit. The confrontation with Russia now has a new element, a kind of X-factor: the potential for allied troops to appear on the side of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This was definitely not the scenario the Kremlin dictator was counting on when he ordered the invasion. And the first reactions from Moscow make it clear that they are seriously thinking about it. Macron has raised the stakes, and this came as a surprise to the Putin regime, especially when this blow came from Paris.

The very fact of the potential for allied troops to appear on the side of Ukrainian troops, albeit not today, but somewhere in the distant future, when the situation requires it, is a very effective element of psychological pressure on the aggressor, a kind of deterrent. What will happen in the future is still unknown. If Ukraine receives enough weapons in a timely manner, the situation may develop without the critical need to implement Macron's initiative. But there is already a reason for Russia's concern. Returning to the 1991 borders (restoring the borders of the USSR) in Putin's mind will no longer seem like an achievable task for the aggressor. Now it is important to increase this concern and bring it to the point of potentially revising the aggressor's maximalist goals.

Thus, the Paris Summit was an excellent overture to Macron's upcoming visit to Kyiv.

There will be something to talk about and coordinate.

It was no coincidence that Macron's thesis was announced as part of the coalition's announcement of long-range weapons to Ukraine. Accordingly, the allies are facing a clear dilemma: either providing Ukraine with all the necessary weapons now or sending their own soldiers to the front later. And this is all amid increasingly frequent talk about the possibility of a Russian attack on NATO in the near future.

Let's hope that Macron's thesis will have an effect not only on Moscow, but also on our partners about the need to fully mobilize resources today.

And there is no need to say that this is a gift to Putin or an excessive escalation or provocation by Russia. We should never forget that, despite all the bravado, the Kremlin's last desire in the world is for war with NATO. And this is perhaps the only "never" that should always be reminded.


About the author: Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, Ukrainian diplomat, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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