Russia says conflict with NATO ‘inevitable’ if West puts boots on ground in Ukraine

Conflict will be “inevitable” if Western forces join Ukraine’s fight against Russia, a Kremlin spokesperson said Tuesday. 

The warning comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron said sending troops to quell Russia’s renewed offensive should not be “ruled out.” 

“In this case, we need to talk not about probability, but about the inevitability [of conflict],” Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, told reporters. 

“These countries must also evaluate and be aware of this, asking themselves whether this corresponds to their interests, as well as the interests of the citizens of their countries,” Peskov added.

Macron made the comment while hosting 27 European Union nation representatives at an aid summit in Paris on Monday, including 21 heads of state. 

“There’s no consensus today to send in an official, endorsed manner troops on the ground. But in terms of dynamics, nothing can be ruled out,” Macron said.

“The people that said ‘never ever’ today were the same ones who said never ever planes, never ever long-range missiles, never ever trucks. They said all that two years ago,” he added.

Ahead of the Monday meeting, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico also said members at the summit had circulated a “restricted document” that included topics such as military deployments to Ukraine and other military actions that “would send shivers down the spine.” 

“These topics imply that a number of NATO and EU member states are considering sending troops to Ukraine on a bilateral basis,” he said. 

Fico stated that “no soldier from Slovakia will go to Ukraine.”

Other European leaders quickly distanced themselves from the notion that troops are an option in Ukraine. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz contradicted Macron’s description of the talks, saying attendants had reached agreement “that there will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil who are sent there by European states or NATO states.”

Representatives from the U.K., Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and NATO itself also denied the possibility of troop deployment. 

The backtracking comes shortly after Russia threatened “military consequences” for the coming addition of Sweden into NATO. Sweden overcame its final hurdle this week with approval from Hungary’s parliament. 

Putin has cited NATO’s ongoing expansion as a reason for launching his war on Ukraine, which also hopes to join the alliance. 

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also responded to Macron’s comment. 

“It is not relevant at all at the moment. Right now, we are fully occupied with sending advanced material from Sweden to Ukraine in many different ways, as many other countries do,” Kristersson said during an interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT.

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