PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron said the question of sending Western troops to Ukraine would “legitimately” arise if Russia broke through Ukrainian front lines and Kyiv made such a request, in an interview with The Economist published on Thursday.

Macron in the interview doubled down on his comments from earlier this year of not ruling out sending troops to Ukraine, which sent shockwaves through Europe and unsettled allies including Germany. Most of France’s allies said at the time they would not send any forces.

The news weekly said Macron gave the interview after delivering a keynote speech last week, in which he declared that Europe is “mortal” and could “die” partly due to the threat posed by Russian aggression after its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

It was published at a key moment for Macron, who is due to host Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 6-7 for a state visit and has been issuing increasingly stark warnings about the threat posed by Russian aggression.

“Absolutely. I’m not ruling anything out, because we are facing someone who is not ruling anything out,” said Macron when asked if he stood by his earlier comments made on February 26.

Macron said that “if Russia decided to go further, we will in any case all have to ask ourselves this question” about sending troops, describing his refusal to rule out such a move as a “strategic wake-up call for my counterparts”.

His latest comments come as some analysts believe that Russia could be on the verge of launching a major new offensive in Ukraine. Russia said it had captured another village in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow’s forces have been making advances for days.

In an apparent bid to keep harmony with Berlin ahead of Xi’s visit, Macron was due to dine privately with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a Paris restaurant, a French presidential official said.

Macron described Russia under President Vladimir Putin as “a power of regional destabilisation” and “a threat to Europeans’ security”. “I have a clear strategic objective: Russia cannot win in Ukraine,” Macron said. “If Russia wins in Ukraine, there will be no security in Europe.

“Who can pretend that Russia will stop there? What security will there be for the other neighbouring countries, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Lithuania and the others?” he asked. “It has broken all the frameworks and has basically returned to a logic of total war,” he said. But he suggested that Moscow’s war machine was not sustainable over the long term.

“Devoting a third of its budget to defence is not sustainable for a country whose gross domestic product is lower than that of France, Germany or the United Kingdom,” he said.

Reaffirming his mantra that Europe must reduce its defence dependence on the United States, Macron said Europe needed a “credible strategic concept of joint defence” adding that “nuclear weapons must be included in the debate.” After Britain’s exit from the European Union, France is the sole EU power with its own atomic weapons.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Reforming militants
24 Jul, 2024

Reforming militants

Such initiatives have been tried before, in Swat for instance, at centres run by the military as well as NGOs.
IPP debate
24 Jul, 2024

IPP debate

A FIERCE debate blaming the exorbitant electricity prices on expensive power purchase agreements with IPPs has been...
Political vendettas
24 Jul, 2024

Political vendettas

IT seems that the PML-N and PPP need to be reminded again that they are doing themselves a considerable disservice ...
Security concerns
23 Jul, 2024

Security concerns

All stakeholders want what is best for the country and its people; their differing approaches shouldn’t be viewed with such suspicion all the time.
Frankfurt vandalism
23 Jul, 2024

Frankfurt vandalism

THE state needs to seek serious answers from the German authorities regarding the July 20 mob attack targeting...
Stressed cotton economy
23 Jul, 2024

Stressed cotton economy

DECREASING cotton production should be a worry for the government because of its socioeconomic implications. Early...