Kremlin Warns Against NATO Ground Intervention in Ukraine

The Kremlin warned on Tuesday that the intervention of NATO troops on the ground in Ukraine would inevitably lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and the Western military alliance, describing the discussion of such a possibility as “a very important new element.”

The warning comes a day after President Emmanuel Macron of France said “nothing should be ruled out,” when he was asked about the possibility of sending Western troops to Ukraine to help the nation defend against Russia.

“Anything is possible if it is useful to reach our goal,” Mr. Macron said, speaking after a meeting with European leaders in Paris about future support for Ukraine. He said the goal was to ensure “Russia cannot win this war.”

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said such an intervention would lead to a direct clash between NATO troops and Russian forces.

“In this case, we would need to talk not about its likelihood, but about its inevitability,” he said.

The suggestion by the French leader is likely to be a nonstarter in Washington, where the Biden administration has made avoidance of direct conflict between Russian and American troops the “North Star” of its response to Moscow’s invasion. President Biden has said Washington must avoid the start of World War III and a direct clash between nuclear powers.

Western nations initially held back long-range weapons, tanks and other equipment from Ukrainian troops out of fears that the conflict could escalate to a direct confrontation between Russia and the Western military alliance.

The Kremlin, for its part, has often responded to Western actions with provocative threats of confrontation, including regularly reminding its adversaries of its nuclear arsenal.

Despite bellicose warnings in the initial days of the conflict, the Kremlin has refrained from conducting strikes against Ukraine’s Western allies, even though shipments of materiel destined for Ukrainian forces are regularly arriving from Poland, a NATO member.

On Tuesday, Mr. Peskov noted the “rich array of opinions on this topic” within the Western alliance and the lack of a consensus — which Mr. Macron also noted in his comments.

“A whole host of participants in this event in Paris retain a sufficiently sober assessment of the potential dangers of such actions and the potential dangers of direct involvement in a hot conflict — involvement on the battlefield,” Mr. Peskov said. “This is of course absolutely not in the interest of these countries.”

Mr. Peskov said the fact that a direct intervention of NATO troops on the ground was being discussed “is of course a very important new element” that was noticed by the Kremlin.

The French leader has described the defeat of Russia in Ukraine as “indispensable” to European security.

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