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Monday, June 24, 2024
OpinionTwo years later, the West wants to show Putin that it is no longer afraid of him

Two years later, the West wants to show Putin that it is no longer afraid of him

Western troops in Ukraine? For Emmanuel Macron, this is not excluded. Surprising, when we know that two years ago, there was great fear of mobilizing the troops. Where has the fear of a nuclear attack, of a European war gone? Analysis by Chiara Schlenz.

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On Monday, the declarations of French President Emmanuel Macron during a conference in support of Ukraine in Paris made more than one person jump. “There is no consensus today to send ground troops in an official, assumed and endorsed manner. But in dynamics, nothing should be excluded. We will do everything necessary to ensure that Russia cannot win this war,” declared the French president in front of Ukraine’s allies.

More than offensive and determined remarks which, apparently intended to be reassuring, conceal numerous dangers. The more or less indignant reactions from European countries immediately erupted.

Mobilization in Europe is taboo

The Kremlin also reacted to the French president’s comments. A predictable and very clear reaction: if Western troops were to fight in Ukraine, Russia would react with nuclear escalation. The head of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, had already announced the color on numerous occasions during the last two years of the conflict. No wonder then that the mobilization of European soldiers is an absolute taboo for all EU members. At least, until today.

“The sending of Western troops to Ukraine cannot be excluded,” says Emmanuel Macron. The situation in Ukraine is so critical, the issue is of paramount importance for Europe, and everything must be done to end the war. This change in attitude is remarkable, but above all it could completely change the course of the war.

Two years later, opinions have changed

Because the French president has not always been of this opinion. Nearly two years ago, Macron still affirmed that Europe should “never give in to the temptation of humiliation or the spirit of revenge” in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “because they have already done enough damage in the past on the path to peace. Comments entirely opposed to his statement on Monday.

From the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a large number of other countries also vehemently opposed the supply of weapons. Among them, Germany, which for months even refused to deliver protective helmets to Ukrainian troops. Today, just days before the two-year anniversary of the outbreak of war, Germany is now Ukraine’s largest military supporter, after the United States.

No clear “consensus”

Emmanuel Macron was the first to notice this reversal: “The same people who say today ‘No Western troops in Ukraine!’ are the same people who said two years ago: ‘No tanks, no fighter planes, no long-range missiles in Ukraine!’

For the French head of state, there is not yet a clear “consensus” for an official sending of ground troops to Ukraine. And for good reason: on Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, known for his hesitations, strongly contradicted him. The option raised by Macron would, however, have been raised in discussions during the summit.

Has the West crossed a red line?

In short, sending Western troops to Ukraine would be a violation of taboo on an unprecedented scale. The war, which is currently limited to Ukraine, would probably spread to other states if Vladimir Putin’s recurring threats are to be believed. And with such a decision, the nuclear sword of Damocles would weigh more than ever on Europe.

Contacted by Blick, Ulrich Schmid, Russia expert at the University of St. Gallen, made the same observation: “Third states that send their own soldiers to Ukraine would thus become a belligerent party. Until now, this was a red line that even the West has not crossed.” As a real participant in the war, any country inevitably becomes a potential target for Russia.

The Kremlin reacts to Macron’s statement

The Kremlin has sharply criticized mind games over the engagement of Western ground troops in Ukraine. Sending troops would make a conflict between Russia and NATO not only likely, but also inevitable, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the Tass news agency on Tuesday. The West must be aware that the consequences that would result from this do not correspond to its interests and even less to those of its citizens, he added.

Europe wants to prove to Putin

Conversely, we can also wonder whether Europe has finally understood what is at stake. “In many states, we realize that a military success of Russia in Ukraine would also affect the credibility of its own defense,” analyzes Ulrich Schmid.

But for Emmanuel Macron, it is not only about the survival of Ukraine. It is also about the freedom of Europe. “We are convinced that the defeat of Russia is essential to the security and stability of Europe,” insists Macron, thus including in his declaration the 25 heads of state of the EU present. Perhaps this is ultimately what it is about: proving to Putin that we are no longer afraid of him.

Opinion by Chiara Schlenz from a French newspaper Blick

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