'Completely unnecessary': Britain rebuffs Macron plan to send troops to Ukraine over 'major escalation' fears

'Completely unnecessary': Britain rebuffs Macron plan to send troops to Ukraine over 'major escalation' fears

France's apparent escalation comes as Nato continues to roll out its largest military exercise since the Cold War

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 28/02/2024

- 22:56

Putting boots on the ground would be ‘completely unnecessary’ said Tobias Ellwood

Britain has become the latest country to push back against Emmanuel Macron after the French president refused to rule out deploying Nato troops to Ukraine.

Macron had told European heads of state and top officials that putting boots on the ground was an option at a conference in Paris on Monday.

France’s President said: “There’s no consensus today to send, in an official manner, troops on the ground… But in terms of options, nothing can be ruled out.”

Macron went on to urge Western countries to do “everything needed so that Russia cannot win the war”.

Vladimir Putin, Olaf Scholz, Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron

Britain, alongside senior Nato partners, distanced itself from French 'escalation' this week


French foreign minister Stéphane Séjourné stressed on Tuesday that military personnel could be sent to train or build weapons in Ukraine without crossing a “belligerence threshold”.

But Séjourné also said: “We must consider new actions to support Ukraine. These must meet very specific needs, and I’m thinking in particular of mine clearance, cyber, and the production of weapons on the spot, on Ukrainian territory.

“Some of these actions may require a presence on Ukrainian territory, without crossing the threshold of belligerence. Nothing can be ruled out.”

Russia reacted to what they would have seen as an escalation of tensions from France; Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: “The very fact of discussing the possibility of sending certain contingents to Ukraine from Nato countries is a very important new element.


\u200bTobias Ellwood

Tobias Ellwood was particularly keen to decry the suggestion of deploying boots on Ukrainian soil


“In that case, we would need to talk not about the probability, but about the inevitability [of direct conflict].”

A French government source defended the pair’s statements and said: “The aim is to send a strong strategic message to the Russians to say: ‘Don’t do anything stupid.’”

But Britain, alongside the US, Germany and other EU nations, distanced themselves from Macron’s comments.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Beyond the small number of personnel in-country supporting the armed forces, we do not have any plans to make large-scale deployments.”

Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron

Despite the two nations' close ties, Downing Street said they had "no plans" to join any French entry to Ukraine


Former Commons defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood said: “The idea that you put boots on the ground… is so totemic and so symbolic, but is completely unnecessary rattling of Putin when there are other ways to test his long-term commitment to seeing this through.”

Senior UK defence sources also hit back at Macron, saying Nato deployment would be a “major escalation” with Russia, the Telegraph reported.

EU heavyweights Germany and Italy, and fierce Russian opponents Poland and the Czech Republic – as well as Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg – also chimed in to rebuff French comments.

During Monday’s conference, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said “there would be no ground troops on Ukrainian soil, no soldiers sent there from European states or Nato states.”

In a curt statement, Germany’s deputy chancellor Robert Haebeck later said: “I’m pleased that France is thinking about how to increase its support for Ukraine, but if I could give it a word of advice: supply more weapons.”

France and Germany have exchanged blows over weapons provision before – but the disagreement has rumbled into this week as the two powers continue to argue over their respective responsibilities.

You may like