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Poland’s Foreign Minister Suggests Possibility of Sending NATO Troops to Ukraine

Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, suggested that NATO troops being present in Ukraine should not be dismissed.

Poland’s foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski indicated on Friday that it is not impossible for NATO forces to be stationed in Ukraine following a warning from French President Emmanuel Macron, which elicited mixed reactions from other leaders.

During a panel discussion in the Polish parliament in Warsaw on March 8, Mr. Sikorski mentioned this possibility while commemorating the 25th anniversary of Poland’s inclusion in the trans-atlantic defense pact.

“The presence of NATO forces in Ukraine is not unthinkable,” Mr. Sikorski stated, as per a translation by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Up to now, NATO has provided Ukraine with non-lethal aid like medical supplies and winter gear, while some members have independently sent weapons and ammunition.

Previously, the French president suggested that sending Western ground troops to Ukraine should not be completely ruled out, emphasizing the commitment to prevent Russia from winning the war.

“At present, there is no consensus to officially send troops on the ground. Nevertheless, dynamically, no options are off the table,” Mr. Macron expressed during a press conference on February 26 in Paris.

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President Macron refrained from disclosing which NATO countries were contemplating sending their troops to Ukraine, emphasizing a preference to maintain some “strategic ambiguity.”

His statements drew immediate criticism from the Kremlin, cautioning that NATO troops in Ukraine could lead to a conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.

Backlash and Backpedaling

Several European leaders moved to address worries about NATO contemplating the deployment of troops to Ukraine, with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk remarking that Poland does not intend to dispatch its troops to Ukraine.

Similarly, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz asserted that “there will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil who are sent there by European states or NATO states.”

Moreover, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg explicitly stated that “there are no plans for NATO combat troops on the ground in Ukraine,” though he acknowledged that the alliance is offering “unprecedented” support to Kyiv.

To clarify President Macron’s remarks, French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu mentioned that there have been talks among NATO allies regarding conducting military training and de-mining operations in Ukraine, but a consensus on this matter has yet to be reached.

“The aim is not to send troops to engage in war with Russia,” the French minister clarified.

In his recent comments, the Polish foreign minister indicated that President Macron’s statements were meant as a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I appreciate President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative, as it is about instilling fear in Putin, not us fearing Putin,” Mr. Sikorski remarked.

He added that Russia, through its incursion into Ukraine, has shown itself as a nation unable to coexist peacefully with its neighbors and incapable of embracing shared values despite encouragement.
During a separate event in Warsaw on March 8, Mr. Sikorski highlighted Poland’s crucial role in delivering Western aid and weapons to Ukraine while advocating for strengthening European infrastructure to support swift military reinforcements to NATO’s eastern flank.
French President Emmanuel Macron looks on during a press conference at the end of the international conference aimed at strengthening Western support for Ukraine, in Paris, on Feb. 26, 2024. (Gonzalo Fuentes/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron looks on during a press conference at the end of the international conference aimed at strengthening Western support for Ukraine, in Paris, on Feb. 26, 2024. (Gonzalo Fuentes/AFP/Getty Images)

Recently, Czech President Petr Pavel expressed support for exploring new avenues to assist Ukraine’s military following a meeting with President Macron, hinting at the potential of sending troops in the future.

“Let’s not confine ourselves unnecessarily,” President Pavel stated, as reported by Czech news outlet Novinky.

President Macron reiterated after his meeting with President Pavel that European support for Ukraine should persist, emphasizing a desire to avoid escalating tensions with Russia.

‘Extremely Dangerous’

The head of the Kremlin’s intelligence service has referred to discussions about sending Western troops to Ukraine as “extremely hazardous,” cautioning that such a move would represent a “red line” for Russia.

Sergei Naryshkin, the chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, stated on Russian state TV on March 5 that talk of sending Western troops to Ukraine “demonstrates the high level of political irresponsibility among Europe’s current leaders.”

“These statements are extremely perilous,” Mr. Naryshkin remarked.

“It is disheartening to witness this lack of ability, understanding, and willingness among current European and North Atlantic elites to engage in dialogue. They are increasingly devoid of any common sense,” he added.

Poland, a member of NATO, is situated on the alliance’s eastern border, sharing boundaries with Ukraine and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Given its history under Russian rule, many Poles fear that Russia’s victory in Ukraine could lead to potential targeting of other nations in a region Moscow perceives within its sphere of influence.

Although Russia has denied aggressive intentions toward NATO member states, it has accused the alliance of attempting to transform Ukraine into a NATO stronghold on its borders, holding it responsible for the Ukraine conflict.

Some analysts view Mr. Sikorski’s recent comments as hinting at a broader shift toward President Macron’s stance, suggesting that considering NATO presence in Ukraine is crucial amidst domestic pressures in the United States to cease or reduce aid to Kyiv.

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