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Ukraine: Macron returns to the front line, not without risks

In 2022, he did not want to "humiliate" Russia, two years later he wants to prevent it from "winning" war: by radically changing posture until raising the specter of sending ground troops, Emmanuel Macron is trying to regain the initiative in the Ukrainian conflict, at the risk of finding himself alone.

“Dynamically, nothing should be excluded,” he said Monday evening, when asked about the possibility of such a sending, after a meeting with his European counterparts at the Elysée, while recognizing the absence of “consensus” on the subject and assuming a certain “strategic ambiguity”.

A way for the French president to once again pose as a leader, by putting his foot in the dish as he did by evoking the “brain death” of NATO.

Or like when he continued to dialogue with the master of the Kremlin Vladimir Putin after the launch of the Russian offensive in February 2022 in Ukraine, despite a growing incomprehension in the Western camp.

The response was not long in coming from Berlin, France's main partner. “No soldiers will be sent” neither by European states nor by those of NATO, Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted on Tuesday. Several European allies have expressed the same reservations.

Emmanuel Macron wants to “raise the stakes and the role of France to have a seat at the table in redefining the balance of European security”, believes a diplomat from another allied country in the face of this new French lone rider.

– Double message –

In the end, with this untimely announcement at the end of a quickly organized meeting, the Head of State once again risks achieving the opposite effect to that which was sought, whatever the merits of his approach.

” It was a message to Russia, a way of signaling that there is no fatigue and that Europeans will not give up in their support for Ukraine as the war enters its third year. , deciphers Marie Dumoulin, expert at ECFR (European Council for External Relations).

Russians and Europeans alike have in mind the freezing of American aid, blocked by the Republicans in Congress, which heavily burdens the Ukrainians, already in difficulty on the ground, and the possible re-election of Donald Trump which could have serious consequences on the outcome of the conflict.

President Macron also wanted to say to European public opinion: “if we do not want to end up sending troops, we must strengthen support (in arms) now,” continues the ECFR researcher. But the debate risks being “counterproductive”, she says.

For Cyrille Bret, of the Jacques Delors European Research Institute, it “leaves strategic ambiguity, doubt” over the possibility of such a sending in order to “dissuade in advance any excessively pronounced Russian progression in Ukraine” in the future. approach of the double Russian presidential election in March and the American one in November.

– “False debate” –

From the Russian point of view, “in the spring they must have been able to recover a little ground to start negotiating at the time of the American elections”, anticipates a French diplomatic source.

With this “radical change of doctrine”, “the French president is breaking a taboo” but also risks triggering a debate that escapes him in Europe when it comes to knowing “who is ready to die for Ukraine” , continues Cyrille Bret.

“There is a real strategic shift whose realization, materialization, seriousness over time remain to be demonstrated”, warns the researcher.

For Michael Roth, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag (lower house of the German Parliament), sending soldiers is a “false debate”. “I don't know anyone who seriously wants it, not even in Ukraine. They mainly need ammunition, air defense, drones, long-range weapons,” he says.

“Napoleon said we commit and then we see”, adds François Heisbourg, advisor at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), in London.

< p> “Ambiguity is playing to dissuade an adversary. But here, Emmanuel Macron has above all sowed confusion among our partners”, he continues. And anything that gives “the impression of disorder is good for Russian and pro-Russian propagandists”, he warns.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116