Macron reiterates call to send French ground troops to Ukraine for war on Russia

In an interview this weekend with the newspaper Le Parisien, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed that ground operations in Ukraine might be necessary “at some point.” Macron spoke to Le Parisien after attending a summit in Berlin on Friday where France, Germany, and Poland declared their united support for escalating war with Russia, as NATO-backed Ukrainian forces face a military debacle on the front.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. [AP Photo/Gonzalo Fuentes]

Macron told Le Parisien, “Our duty is to prepare for all scenarios,” adding: “I am convinced, by the way, that in some of these scenarios, anyone who is able to do so with their model would assume their responsibilities.”

Macron is making clear that European powers are preparing a ground intervention into Ukraine that threatens to unleash nuclear war between NATO and Russia. He said, “Maybe at a given point in time—I don’t want it, I would not take this initiative—it will be necessary to have operations on the ground, of whatever character, to counter Russian forces. The strength of France is that we are capable of doing this.”

He again asserted that the European powers plan to send troops into Ukraine to fight Russia. “Many countries in Europe, and not the smallest ones, are totally on our line,” Macron said.

Macron’s call to deploy troops in Ukraine came only a few weeks after he said the NATO powers did not rule out sending ground troops to Ukraine to fight Russia at a February 26 conference in Paris. At that time, Macron declared that “everything is possible” to prevent a Russian victory in Ukraine, and that individual European countries sending troops to Ukraine is “not excluded.”

Initially, after Macron raised sending troops into Ukraine last month, French officials downplayed his comment, claiming that there were no concrete plans in that direction. Foreign minister Stéphane Séjourné argued that Paris could send troops to Ukraine for specific needs, but not to fight a war with Russia. Séjourné said, “We must consider new actions to support Ukraine. These must respond to very specific needs, I am thinking in particular of mine clearance, cyberdefence, the production of weapons on site, on Ukrainian territory.”

Séjourné added, “Some of its actions could require a presence on Ukrainian territory, without crossing the threshold of fighting. Nothing should be ruled out. This was and still is the position today of the president of the Republic.”

However, Macron’s latest interview and his remarks at last week’s Berlin summit confirm that Séjourné’s denials are lies, designed to cover up the war plans against Russia and hide the danger of nuclear war from the working class. In reality, Macron has repeatedly insisted that France must be ready to use its own military forces to wage war with Russia.

Le Parisien asked Macron, “Is the general staff preparing military scenarios, just in case?” To this, Macron replied, “Our duty is to prepare ourselves for all scenarios. It would be an error; it would be wrong not to do this.”

With such remarks, the European NATO powers are opening the path to escalation to World War III between NATO and Russia, including the use of nuclear weapons.

To the threat of troops deployment by the NATO powers, Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed it is setting into motion a vast escalation of the war. Last week, Putin warned: “From a military-technical point of view, we are of course ready. ... As for governments who claim they have no more red lines with Russia, they must know that in this case, Russia will not have any more red lines with them, either.”

Macron responded to Putin’s comments on the danger of nuclear war during his primetime TF1 interview Thursday with his own threats. He said, “We must first and foremost feel protected, because we are a nuclear power. We are ready; we have a doctrine [for the use of nuclear weapons].”

Despite Putin’s warning, Macron is downplaying the danger of war, ignoring the potentially catastrophic consequences of their threats against Russia.

Thus, commenting to Le Parisien on reports that he cancelled a trip to Ukraine in order to go to the war summit in Berlin, Macron said: “Initially, I thought to go to Ukraine. I told President Zelensky it was more important for me to convince Germany and Poland to do more and do it differently, by my side. I will go to Ukraine later.”

Another factor that likely played a major role in Macron’s decision was the outcome of Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis’ March 6 trip to Ukraine to see Zelensky. While Zelensky and Mitsotakis were in the port city of Odessa, a Russian missile exploded close to where they were meeting. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev confirmed in a post on his Telegram channel that this was a threat to NATO heads of state visiting Ukraine.

“Everything is clear for everyone, there was no attack on the group in Odessa, and if they had been the target, it would have been hit,” Medvedev threatened. “But it’s unfortunate, nonetheless. It is too bad they rushed to a place that had been announced well in advance.”

Inside the French capitalist state, sections of the military are growing concerned of the rapidly growing risk of military escalation. The right-wing social-democratic magazine Marianne published a list of statements from French military sources, including from one unnamed senior officer who said: “We should not fool ourselves, compared to the Russians, we have an army of cheerleaders.”

Russia’s active-duty military numbers 1.5 million, compared to 205,000 for France, 184,000 for Germany and 170,000 in Italy. Macron also admitted Thursday night that, despite massive NATO military aid to Ukraine, Russian artillery outnumbers Ukrainian artillery 10 to 1 on the front lines. This is why Macron is pressing to re-establish universal military service, and the EU is calling to convert Europe to a war economy.

Last week, the French National Assembly gave broad support to a 10-year security agreement between France and Ukraine. The agreement calls to strengthen military cooperation, particularly in the fields of artillery and air defense. In 2024, Paris will provide “up to three billion euros in additional support,” declared French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. The billions of spending on war in Ukraine are to be financed by massive cuts to social spending like Macron’s explosively unpopular pension reform last year.

Students protest against Macron and his pension reforms in front of the Pantheon, in the Latin Quarter of Paris.

There is massive popular opposition to the sending of European ground troops to Ukraine: polls have found 81 percent opposed in Germany and 68 percent in France. However, amid overwhelming opposition among workers and youth to the escalation of the war, the public is being kept in the dark about the imminence of the war danger, as the ruling class spins its military conspiracies without opposition in the political establishment.

Workers and youth must be mobilized against the war Macron is preparing behind their backs. Neither the union bureaucracies nor their defenders among the pseudo-left parties will oppose French imperialist war and its crimes. The way forward is the holding of anti-war meetings and protests, aiming to build an international anti-war movement in the working class, fighting against imperialist war based on a revolutionary socialist perspective to overthrow capitalism.