PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron left open the option of putting European troops on the ground in Ukraine, saying nothing should be ruled out to defeat Russia’s aggression against the country.

Macron said the issue of sending troops to Ukraine was among topics discussed during a meeting of 27 countries in Paris, including 21 heads of state, on how to aid the embattled nation.

“There’s no consensus today to send ground troops in an official, assumed and endorsed way, but in terms of dynamics, nothing should be excluded,” Macron said in a press conference Monday night after the meeting. “We will do whatever it takes so that Russia cannot win this war.”

Two years after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine in recent weeks has been pushed back along some parts of the frontline, after a counteroffensive last year failed to achieve a breakthrough. Macron said Russia’s defeat in Ukraine is “indispensable” to the security and stability of Europe.

Macron declined to say which countries supported the idea of sending troops to Ukraine, and rejected a suggestion that France wasn’t in favor. The meeting included German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

“I’m not going to clear up the ambiguity of tonight’s debates by naming names, I’m saying that it was mentioned among the options,” the French president said.

According to Poland’s Duda, the most heated discussion at the meeting was about whether to send troops to Ukraine and “there was no agreement on the matter,” and no decisions taken, the Associated Press reported.

Macron said at the start of the meeting that there had been a “hardening” of Russia in recent months, also in its internal politics, and he said almost all the countries gathered in Paris had faced increased cyber and information attacks in recent months. He said the collective analysis is that “within the next few years, we have to be prepared for Russia to attack these countries.”

“The lucidity is here, and the collective realization is that basically all of our security is now at stake.”

The countries discussed the need to “do things differently,” according to Macron. He said the war in Ukraine is a European war, and it’s up to the European countries to make a “strategic leap.”

“Ukraine is under enormous pressure, and we must not simply react, but help Ukraine to take the initiative, at a time when there are strategic uncertainties on the American capacity to decide on additional aid, based on the outcome of the American elections.”

Macron said there was a consensus for “new initiatives” on cyber defense; co-production of arms and munitions in Ukraine; defending countries threatened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in particular Moldova; supporting Ukraine on its border with Belarus with non-military forces; and demining operations.

If the five consensus points were fully implemented, they might require a number of security measures that would “justify some elements of deployment,” Macron said.

The countries gathered in Paris agreed on a new coalition to provide Ukraine with long-range strike capacity, by providing medium- and long-range missiles and bombs, according to Macron. The governments also agreed to strengthen existing coalitions for munitions and air-ground defense.

France isn’t in discussion with Ukraine about delivering Mirage jets, but continues to train pilots as part of the F-16 coalition, Macron said.

Macron backed an Estonian proposal for a joint European loan to set up a defense investment fund. He said a similar solution to the financing of the Covid crisis would be “relevant,” with a common guarantee backed by national budgets that would allow the European Union to issue debt.

The EU promise to deliver one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March “was no doubt an imprudent commitment,” because the stocks weren’t there, Macron said. Countries at the Monday meeting agreed to pool their efforts to source ammunition, including from non-EU countries, and they’ll provide “a clear response with a serious agenda” on the ammunition issue in the next ten days, he said.

He said finding the available ammunition is the main problem, the question of financing is secondary. Macron said explosive powder is “what’s really lacking today.”

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

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