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Western troops on the ground in Ukraine is not 'ruled out' in the future, French leader says

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Paris, France -

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that sending western troops on the ground in Ukraine is not “ruled out” in the future after the issue was debated at a gathering of European leaders in Paris, as Russia’s full-scale invasion grinds into a third year.

The French leader said that “we will do everything needed so Russia cannot win the war" after the meeting of over 20 European heads of state and government and other western officials.

“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 in a news conference at the Elysee presidential palace.

Macron declined to provide details about which nations were considering sending troops, saying he prefers to maintain some “strategic ambiguity.”

The meeting included German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Poland's President Andrzej Duda as well as leaders from the Baltic nations. The United States was represented by its top diplomat for Europe, James O’Brien, and the U.K. by Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Duda said the most heated discussion was about whether to send troops to Ukraine and “there was no agreement on the matter. Opinions differ here, but there are no such decisions.”

Poland's president said he hopes that “in the nearest future, we will jointly be able to prepare substantial shipments of ammunition to Ukraine. This is most important now. This is something that Ukraine really needs.”

Macron earlier called on European leaders to ensure the continent's “collective security” by providing unwavering support to Ukraine in the face of tougher Russian offensives on the battlefield in recent months.

“In recent months particularly, we have seen Russia getting tougher,” Macron said.

Macron cited the need to solidify security to head off any Russian attacks on additional countries in the future. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia as well as much larger Poland have been considered among possible targets of future Russian expansionism. All four countries are staunch supporters of Ukraine.

Estonia’s foreign minister said earlier this month that NATO has about three or four years to strengthen its defenses.

In video speech, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the leaders gathered in Paris to "ensure that Putin cannot destroy our achievements and cannot expand his aggression to other nations.”

Several European countries, including France, expressed their support for an initiative launched by the Czech Republic to buy ammunition and shells outside the EU, participants to the meeting said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country decided to provide over 100 million euros for that purpose.

In addition, a new coalition is to be launched to further “mobilize” nations with capabilities to deliver medium and long-range missiles, Macron said, as France announced last month the delivery of 40 additional long-range Scalp cruise missiles.

European nations are worried that the U.S. will dial back support as aid for Kyiv is teetering in Congress. They also have concerns that former U.S. president Donald Trump might return to the White House and change the course of U.S. policy on the continent.

The Paris conference comes after France, Germany and the U.K. recently signed 10-year bilateral agreements with Ukraine to send a strong signal of long-term backing as Kyiv works to shore up western support.

Associated Press journalists John Leicester and Jeffrey Schaeffer in Paris Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.

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