Macron’s Folly: Sending Troops to Ukraine Is a Very Bad Idea, from the Wrong Person, at the Wrong Time

At a time when Ukraine desperately needs practical deliveries of weapons and ammunition to help sustain its defence against advancing Russian forces, president Macron has seen fit to distract from this priority by raising the spectre of a potential future deployment of European troops into Ukraine.

It appears that Macron is trying to use these dramatic circumstances and the lack of strong US leadership to his political advantage in Europe.

Such an explosive suggestion was always going to cause a stir. Even though there has been a prompt and significant backlash against this idea from some European quarters, other figures such as the Netherlands’ top general have since backed the French president’s line. (Considering that the Netherlands is currently on track to provide the next head of NATO, in the person of Mark Rutte, this stance is rather concerning.)

It is therefore essential to nip this folly in the bud before it spreads further.

No great strategic insight is required in order to work out that this is an incredibly ill-judged proposition.

For anyone even vaguely aware of the broad realities of international affairs, particularly Russia’s conduct and the general course of the Ukraine war, basic common sense is enough to reveal the folly of the French president’s suggestion.

Still, as legendary US Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, sometimes “we need education in the obvious”. So it is worth laying out some of the main reasons why sending troops to Ukraine would be a calamitous decision if it were ever to happen.

Firstly, and most obviously, this would be a highly escalatory step, making a NATO war with Russia much more likely.

No doubt, any Western troops sent to Ukraine will initially be deployed in a non-combat role, far from the line of contact between Ukrainian and Russian troops. There has been speculation that they could perhaps be positioned in western Ukraine along the border with Belarus – a non-combatant, though not neutral, state. This move would secure Ukraine’s rear and, correspondingly, would allow Kyiv to transfer freed-up units and equipment from these areas to the front.

As a matter of standard procedure Western troops would also come with their own air and missile defence assets and other heavy equipment for self defence.

An effective No Fly Zone would be in operation over the deployment areas, as no Russian missile, plane or drone could be allowed to approach close enough to pose a threat, even if it was perhaps “only” aimed at a Ukrainian target in the area.

If positioned at several geographically dispersed locations, even a relatively small Western force could therefore require – or justify – securing the skies over much of Western Ukraine, because airborne threats must be intercepted at range.

In other words, we would be circling back to the extremely foolish scenario of a NATO No Fly Zone proposed by some from the very first few days of the war, back in February 2022.

The idea was rejected out of hand then, for its escalatory potential, and it remains a literal dead-end now. This is because Russia would undoubtedly begin striking these Western forces as soon as practicably possible once they enter Ukrainian territory.

Read the rest at Brussels Signal.

Gabriel Elefteriu is a fellow at Yorktown Institute.

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