Le Pays De France - Macron announces new steps to boost Ukraine, doesn't exclude troops

Paris -
Macron announces new steps to boost Ukraine, doesn't exclude troops
Macron announces new steps to boost Ukraine, doesn't exclude troops / Photo: © POOL/AFP

Macron announces new steps to boost Ukraine, doesn't exclude troops

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday new steps to boost Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, saying not even the sending of Western ground troops was ruled out to achieve Europe's goal of defeating Moscow.

Text size:

Speaking after hosting a meeting of two dozen European leaders to discuss Ukraine, Macron painted a grim picture of a Russia whose positions he said were "hardening" both at home and on the battlefield.

"We are convinced that the defeat of Russia is indispensible to security and stability in Europe," he said.

Russia, he said, was showing a "more aggressive attitude not just in Ukraine but in general".

While there was "no consensus" on the sending of Western ground troops to Ukraine, "nothing should be excluded. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war," he said.

Macron said the new coalition would be set up to supply Ukraine with "missiles and bombs of medium and long range to carry out deep strikes".

There was a "broad consensus to do more and quicker", he added.

"Nothing can be excluded to achieve our objective. Russia cannot win that war."

- Russia 'hardening' -

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda were among around 25 European heads of state and government at the conference.

Other states sent ministers, with foreign secretary David Cameron in Paris for Britain, and the United States and Canada were also represented.

Macron said earlier as he opened the conference at the Elysee palace that Ukraine's allies needed to jump-start their support as the war entered its third year.

"We have seen hardening on the part of Russia, especially these past few months," Macron said.

He said this had manifested itself in February 16 death in custody of President Vladimir Putin's top opponent Alexei Navalny, but also in a hardening of Russia's positions on the frontlines, where it was planning "new attacks".

Macron said a "leap" was needed from the West in its approach that "takes into account the transformation of the threat from a military and strategic point of view".

The conference signalled Macron's eagerness to present himself as a European champion of Ukraine's cause, amid growing fears that American support could wane in the coming months.

"Together we must ensure that Putin cannot destroy our achievements and cannot expand his aggression to other nations," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a brief video message to the conference.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Zelensky had said that leaders in Europe realised "how dangerous" the war is for "the whole of Europe".

"I think they have realised that Putin will continue this war," he said.

- 'Clear message' -

Western officials acknowledge that Russia risks gaining the upper hand in the conflict this year as Ukraine runs out of weapons and ammunition.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov said Sunday that half of the Western military aid pledged to Kyiv is delivered late, noting that "commitment does not constitute delivery".

Revealing the magnitude of Ukraine's human losses, Zelensky said 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the war with Russia.

A French presidential official, who asked not to be named, said the meeting needed to contradict any "impression that things are falling apart" after Ukraine's setbacks on the battlefield.

"We want to send a clear message to Putin that he will not prevail in Ukraine," the official said.

There are growing doubts about the viability of long-term US backing for Ukraine as a new aid package struggles to find legislative approval and Donald Trump, who has indicated opposition to further support for Kyiv, eyes a return to the presidency in elections this year.

A vote by Hungary's parliament on Monday clearing the final obstacle for Sweden to join NATO was received with relief by Ukraine's allies.

Macron congratulated Sweden, while Scholz called the move "a win for all of us" and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed a "historic day" for the military alliance.