French troops in Ukraine

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By ANDREW KORYBKO*

As absurd as Macron's statements about sending troops to Ukraine may be, the possibility of NATO becoming even more involved in this war, which could go from conventional to nuclear, should not be ruled out.

Russian foreign spy chief Naryshkin warned on Tuesday that France is preparing to send 2 troops to Ukraine, following Emmanuel Macron's claim last month that a conventional NATO intervention cannot be deleted. This declaration also coincided with the confirmation by the top French general that his forces are ready to be deployed wherever needed, which disqualified the Defense Ministry's description of Naryshkin's warning as “misinformation”, since there is some objective truth in what he said.

Although many members of alternative media community have ridiculed Emmanuel Macron's statement last month, a prestigious Russian expert has just given it credence in an interview with Sputnik. Alexander Mikhailov, who is the head of the discussion group in Russia Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, said told the media outlet on Tuesday that “Emmanuel Macron undoubtedly has access to both the personnel and resources to send troops to Ukraine.” Therefore, it is not implausible to imagine that France could conventionally intervene in the country.

If this happens, then it will be preventative or reactive, and unilateral or as part of a “coalition of stakeholders”. As regards the first option, France could try to justify it under the pretext of gaining an advantage before Russia achieves a breakthrough through the Contact Line, or you could simply wait until this “trigger event” happens. As for the second option, France would act alone or, more likely, in partnership with the United Kingdom, Poland and os Baltic States with the possible participation of Germany.

Regardless of the pretext and who else might participate, France will almost certainly seek to protect Ukraine's Black Sea coast if it intervenes conventionally. France already has several hundred soldiers in Romania since the beginning of 2022, which may be reinforced before this move, and has just sign a security pact with Moldova earlier this month, which could lead to that country also receiving troops. The “Eastern Balkans”, which are falling into France’s “sphere of influence”, could thus become a French launching pad for Ukraine.

Romania and Moldova border the Area of Odessa, in Ukraine, whose eponymous capital has strategic and symbolic importance. It is the main port of the former Soviet Republic, but also a historically Russian city. Therefore, it is doubly important for the West to protect it from Moscow's control by sending troops from NATO member France there as a form of “deterrence” in case the Line of Contact collapses or appears to be about to collapse.

In this scenario, naval drones could continue threatening the Russian fleet, while that country's supporters could be disappointed after realizing that reunification with Odessa would be almost impossible without triggering World War III, if that city actually came under NATO control through France. Since the Dnieper has already proven to be a formidable obstacle for forces on both sides over the past two years, it is very possible that France will expand its zone of control along the Black Sea coast to Kherson.

This would make the Russian-Ukrainian Line of Contact become Russian-NATO, and could even expand northward up the Dnieper to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, but French forces might be reluctant to cross the river to Zaporizhzhia and further, so as not to overload its military logistics. Furthermore, since this intervention scenario would be linked to a possible Russian advance, France may not want to risk conflict with Russia on the eastern side of the Dnieper.

As dangerous and unprecedented as this sequence of events may be due to the very high risk of World War III being triggered by a miscalculation, the positive side is that it could potentially freeze the positions of either side along the front. south, at least, and thus establish the partial basis for a stop fire. Ukrainian troops could also flee west across the Dnieper if Russia broke the Line of Contact, knowing that their enemies would likely not follow them for fear of triggering World War III by clashing with NATO troops.

This could allow Russia to secure “sanitary/safety zone” predicted by President Vladimir Putin, mentioned during his re-election speech, thus preparing the ground for the asymmetric division of Ukraine between NATO and Russia, with a “buffer zone” in the northeast of eastern Ukraine. Honestly speaking, the Ukrainian Black Sea coast is to be taken by France, but only if Paris has the political will to do so and its people do not revolt at the huge Russian-inflicted casualties that may follow (probably through missile attacks).

*Andrew Korybko holds a master's degree in International Relations from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Book author Hybrid Wars: From Color Revolutions to Coups (popular expression). [https://amzn.to/46lAD1d]

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.


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