Britain, the United States and Germany have denied Emmanuel Macron’s threat to put “boots on the ground” in Ukraine after Russia warned it would make war with NATO “inevitable.”
Downing Street insisted there are no plans to deploy British troops to fight alongside Ukraine following the French president’s claim that the prospect “It should not be ruled out.”
Joe Biden’s administration said the president had been clear that US forces would not be sent to Ukraine.
Germany, meanwhile, issued a thinly veiled rebuke over the speed at which Paris had been supplying weapons to kyiv, saying that should be Macron’s focus.
Conservatives expressed concern about Putin’s “completely unnecessary rattling around,” saying there are better ways to test his “long-term commitment.”
The Kremlin seized on Macron’s words in its attempt to divide the Western military alliance at a crucial point in the two-year war.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the possibility of NATO troops on the ground was an “important new element.”
“In that case, we would have to talk not about the probability but about the inevitability (of war),” he said.
Downing Street said today there were no plans to deploy British troops to fight alongside Ukraine.
Members of the Ukrainian army carry out tactical exercises and training for their operations
Emmanuel Macron said in Paris that troops on the ground “should not be ruled out”
Macron said earlier this week that European nations have not ruled out putting troops on the ground.
He said nothing should be excluded as the West seeks a strategy to counter Russia, which controls just under a fifth of the territory recognized as Ukraine.
“We will do everything necessary to ensure that Russia does not win,” Macron added.
Asked about the comments, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “Other than the small number of personnel in the country supporting the armed forces, we have no plans to undertake large-scale deployments.”
Tobias Ellwood, former chairman of the House of Commons Defense Committee, said the Telegraph: “The idea of putting boots on the ground, which is so totemic and so symbolic, but which is a completely unnecessary rebuke to Putin when there are other ways to test his long-term commitment to seeing this through.”
Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Haebeck said France should focus on providing more weapons to Ukrainian troops.
He said: “I am glad that France is thinking about how to increase its support for Ukraine, but if I could give it some advice: supply it with more weapons.”
The United States also intervened, denying that American troops would be deployed to Ukraine.
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told reporters that Joe Biden “has been clear that the United States will not send troops to fight in Ukraine.”
His colleague Jack Kirby added that US troops were in Ukraine only to account for weapons distributed to their troops.
Kirby denied that American troops could be sent for demining, weapons production or cyber operations, as French Foreign Minister Stéphane Sejourne had suggested Western troops could do.
He added that it would be a “sovereign decision” for France or any other NATO country to send troops to Ukraine.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, asked if the United States could send troops for other purposes, such as training, said the Biden administration opposes any deployment to Ukraine.
“Other than the small number of personnel in the country supporting the armed forces, we have no plans for large-scale deployments,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
The UK is already sending British troops to help train Ukrainian soldiers.
‘We are not going to send troops on the ground in Ukraine. “The president has been very clear,” Miller told reporters.
Both the White House and the State Department said the priority was for Congress to approve new military aid to Ukraine.
“Basically, we believe that the path to victory for Ukraine right now is in the United States House of Representatives,” Miller said.
German Chancellor Olaf Sholz’s deputy, Robert Habeck, criticized the delay in France’s arms supply.
“I am glad that France is thinking about how to increase its support for Ukraine, but if I could give it some advice: supply more weapons,” Mr Habeck said.