Momentum ‘Clearly’ Building for NATO Troops in Ukraine

The French-led push for deeper NATO involvement inside Ukrainian borders is making headway with European allies, a spokesperson for President Emmanuel Macron’s political party said.

Benjamin Haddad—a member of parliament for Macron’s Renaissance party and considered a leading voice in French foreign policy discussions—told Newsweek on the sidelines of the Lennart Meri Conference in Estonia last week that NATO and the European Union need to “turn the tables” on Russian President Vladimir Putin after more than two years of full-scale war.

Macron is seeking to re-establish Western strategic ambiguity and knock Moscow off balance, with the deployment of NATO forces inside Ukraine in non-combat roles among his recent proposals. Though immediately dismissed by the U.S., the idea has won backers in Europe, particularly in nations that sit along Russian frontiers.

Ukrainian troops train on mortars in Poland
Ukrainian soldiers fire a mortar during military training with French forces at a military training compound at an undisclosed location in Poland on April 4. Several NATO leaders have suggested that allied troops could be…


Momentum for deeper NATO commitments—including troop deployment—in Ukraine is “clearly” building, Haddad said. “It was interesting to see that in the first couple days, everyone said, ‘It’s an isolated position by France.'”

But since then, leading European figures expressed their support for the proposal—or at least for an open debate about it—Haddad noted. Among them are Czech President Petr Pavel, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

“This is important because these countries are on the first line,” Haddad continued. “And these are countries that have had distrust towards Paris and Berlin for a long time.”

“We spend too much time being worried about escalation where when Russia is the country that has been escalating,” Haddad added, suggesting Western capitals must “think creatively” about how to better assist Kyiv in various ways, including by potentially putting boots on the ground.

“Right now, a lot of Ukrainian troops are stationed at the border with Belarus to prevent a potential invasion from the north,” he said. “Western forces could be deployed along the frontier ‘as a ‘tripwire’—as you have troops in in the Baltic states or in Poland—to be able to liberate some of these Ukrainian troops to go to the front.

“Of course, it needs to be done in a coordinated way. No country can do it on its own.”

Russia has consistently warned its Western adversaries against providing any kind of aid to Ukraine while simultaneously framing its war on Kyiv as a direct confrontation with the U.S.-led “collective West.”

This month, in response to a Ukrainian petition urging NATO to deploy forces, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: “We have repeatedly said that direct intervention on the ground in this conflict by the military of NATO countries potentially carries enormous danger, so we consider this an extremely challenging provocation, nothing less, and, of course, we are watching this very carefully.”

Russian forces are now pushing all along the front, forcing Ukrainian troops back in key locations and opening new fronts in the northeastern regions of Kharkiv and Sumy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is again pushing Western allies to do more to bolster Kyiv.

“It’s a question of will,” he told Reuters this week. “But everyone says a word that sounds the same in every language: everyone is scared of escalation. Everyone has gotten used to the fact that Ukrainians are dying—that’s not escalation for people.”

Haddad said the latest developments are concerning.

“It’s been concerning for a while,” he said. “We see a Russia that’s ramping up aggression, that’s turned its industry to complete war economy footage, and I think we’ve been lagging in our response, both in Europe in the United States.”