WSJ: Macron told Biden and Scholz that if French troops were attacked in Ukraine he would not ask for US or NATO help

WSJ: Macron told Biden and Scholz that if French troops were attacked in Ukraine he would not ask for US or NATO help
WSJ: Macron told Biden and Scholz that if French troops were attacked in Ukraine he would not ask for US or NATO help
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Date of update: 04/03/2024 14:58
The date of publishing:

04/03/2024 14:54

Macron discussed the possibility of sending French troops to Ukraine with Biden and Scholz in February. Photo: Profimedia Images

French President Emmanuel Macron held confidential conversations with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in February in an attempt to persuade the two leaders to change the West’s strategy in Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Macron believes that Western countries should take a position of strategic ambiguity towards Russia, leaving all options on the table, including military ones. This idea represents a fundamental shift from the position taken by the Biden administration since the beginning of the war.

Washington’s approach was aimed at avoiding actions that could provoke Moscow and lead to an escalation of the war. Instead, Macron sought to remove the red lines of a Western intervention and instead leave the Kremlin guessing.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Biden was questioning the need for a change in strategy amid concerns it could lead to escalation. Scholz also opposed the idea, arguing that it risked dividing allies and drawing NATO countries into the conflict.

In February, Macron called Biden and Scholz to inform them that he wanted to use the upcoming Paris summit to send a message to Putin. Macron said Western capitals should stop ruling out military options, telling leaders he wanted to unveil a new approach after the summit.

Scholz responded that if Macron were to do so publicly, the chancellor and other leaders would be forced to reject him. Officials cited by the WSJ said Scholz advised Macron against the move, saying it could create a sense of division among the allies.

The prospect of deploying Western personnel to Ukraine, whether civilian or military, has raised the question of how allies should react if one of their own were killed in a Russian attack.

A US official said the Biden administration was concerned that Russia could target any French troops that might be sent to Ukraine. This could draw France and possibly other Western countries into war.

However, Macron has indicated to allies that no NATO or US involvement would be necessary if Russia targets French troops, the official said. For example, France suffered losses in military campaigns in Africa without asking for help from allies, Macron allegedly told them.

Tensions came to a head when Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, Chancellor Scholz, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien and other leaders arrived at the Élysée Palace on 26 February. Macron shared his views on the need for strategic ambiguity.

Seated next to him, the French president asked Scholz to comment. Officials said Scholz strongly opposed the idea. One by one, the leaders of the Netherlands, Poland and Greece took the floor and politely rejected the idea. The Estonian prime minister backed Macron, arguing that leaders should stop talking about what they won’t do in a war and focus on what they will do.

Despite overwhelming opposition at the summit, Macron still told reporters that while there was no consensus on sending troops, “nothing should be ruled out.”

Bloomberg wrote that Macron’s statement about the possible deployment of foreign troops to Ukraine has angered US officials, who privately fear such a move could lead to a confrontation with Russia. Despite the controversy, Macron refused to back down, insisting his remarks were well thought out, but also stressing that France would not follow the “logic of escalation” in its relations with Moscow.

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The article is in Romanian

Tags: WSJ Macron told Biden Scholz French troops attacked Ukraine NATO

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