Macron Reiterates Support for Sending Troops to Ukraine: ‘No Room for Boundaries’

French President Emmanuel Macron convened the heads of French opposition parties at his office in the Palace, presenting his perspective and leaving attendees anxious and puzzled.

On Thursday, leaders from France’s political spectrum gathered at the Élysée Palace for a meeting concerning the Ukraine conflict, where President Macron provided briefings and displayed military maps. Macron’s persistent discussion regarding the potential deployment to Ukraine is causing unease in Germany, which has urged its European counterpart to refrain from revisiting the topic.

Despite previous reluctance to participate in similar cross-party gatherings, the French party leaders, many of whom hold contrasting views to Macron’s, attended the meeting, evidently spurred by the President’s recent remarks on the Ukraine conflict.

The meeting marked a noticeable shift in Macron’s approach, as it involved acknowledging parties such as Marine Le Pen’s right-populist National Rally as legitimate political entities. Just a week prior, Macron’s deputy had branded them “Vladimir Putin’s footsoldiers” after the party criticized Macron’s stance of considering the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine.

Despite Macron’s intention to garner support from his political adversaries, many left the meeting with feelings of confusion and concern about what transpired. The National Rally, as expected, was highly critical, with their party president, Jordan Bardella, condemning Macron’s readiness to adopt a “go to war” stance. Meanwhile, the leader of the establishment-right Republicans, Eric Ciotti, utilized the meeting to reaffirm their stance against direct military intervention.

Reflecting on the lack of changed opinions following the summit, Ciotti pondered, “I sincerely question the usefulness of this meeting.”

Politicians on the left also appeared skeptical. Manuel Bompard of the populist-left France Unbowed party simply stated, “I arrived worried and left even more worried,” while the Communist Party criticized Macron’s “dangerous” escalation.

According to French conservative newspaper Le Figaro, a source close to the President reassured that Macron is not advocating for war but rather maintaining an open-minded approach and not shying away from expressing it. The source emphasized, “France is not adopting an escalatory stance. We respond with proportionality… But if we are unwilling to state that we rule out any options, we risk a repeat of what occurred before February 24, 2022.”

Macron, during the discussions, emphasized, “We cannot confine ourselves to limits when confronting an adversary who shows no restraint.”

Adding clarity to Macron’s stance, his defense minister asserts that the deployment of combat troops on the ground is not under consideration, but rather support troops. This could entail deploying French soldiers to Ukraine to provide training to Ukrainian forces on their own soil or combat engineers to identify and clear landmines, a crucial aspect of the conflict that, if left unaddressed, will continue to affect the Ukrainian countryside in the long term.

Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu said such things should be discussed because “we are no longer in the same situation as two years ago… The counter-offensive did not work, and without offence to our allies, the situation is no longer the same as in Washington… The history of France is not being weak. Maintaining the balance of power is neither being weak nor being an escalator. We don’t want to show weakness to Moscow.”

Another initiative France is working on, he said, is to have defence companies set up factories in Ukraine to produce weapons and repair systems in-country.

Macron’s remarks have also stirred unease in Germany, particularly when he first breached the unspoken agreement on discussing NATO troops in Ukraine. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stated on Friday that he vehemently opposed the idea and urged for it to be shelved indefinitely.

Die Welt reports Pistorius said during his visit to Finland on Friday that: “Nobody really wants boots on the ground in Ukraine, there is a discussion about it now, so we should stop it at this point”. His Finnish counterpart agreed, Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen saying: “Nobody supports the ‘boots on the ground’ idea now”.

Naturally, Russia expresses its displeasure at any indication that Western nations might deepen their involvement in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Reacting to Macron’s remark about the absence of limits, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now widely known for daily threats to attack the West at the slightest provocation, commented: “It implies that there are no longer any boundaries for Russia in relation to France.”

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated: “Macron is determined to pursue a strategy aimed at inflicting a strategic defeat on our country. He continues to escalate France’s direct engagement in this conflict. From our perspective, this does not align with the interests of the French people… Macron is beginning to explore the possibility of deploying military forces to the Ukrainian conflict zone. On the other hand, the French foreign minister unequivocally denies any intention of sending such forces.”