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IPFS News Link • Ukraine

French Foreign Legion deployed to Ukraine near the front in the Donbas.

The initial group of French troops numbers around 100. This is just the first tranche of around 1,500 French Foreign Legion soldiers scheduled to arrive in Ukraine. These troops are being posted directly in a hot combat area and are intended to help the Ukrainians resist Russian advances in Donbas. The first 100 are artillery and surveillance specialists. France itself does not have many troops to put on Ukraine's battlelines, should the French government want to do so. According to reports, today France cannot support an overseas deployment of a full division and won't have this capability until 2027 at the earliest. The decision to send Foreign Legionnaires is, itself, a peculiar French compromise. France is not deploying its home army and, besides the small number of officers, the men sent are not French citizens. Macron is angry at seeing French troops, almost all from the Legion, getting kicked out of Sahelian Africa and replaced by Russians. Control of Francophone Africa, and the riches it provides to French politicians, has been broken by the revolt and revolution in Africa and a decisive tilt to Russia – either directly or through PMC Wagner (the Wagner Group). now clearly under Vladimir Putin's direct control. This "humiliation" is felt in the Élysée Palace and particularly by Macron who, his opponents say, has lost France's influence and harmed France's overseas mining and business interests. A particular blow is in Niger, an important supplier of uranium to France. France gets 70 percent of its electrical power from nuclear power generators. Global uranium supplies are tightening and prices rising. With Russia and Kazakhstan, along with Niger, on the top of the heap in terms of supplying uranium for nuclear reactors, France has a home economic security problem. The US decision to ban Russian uranium (but probably not realistically, in the next few years) the Russians could deal a serious blow to France and the United States by cutting off supplies. A key question is how NATO will react to the French decision to deploy. As France is acting on its own without NATO's backing, the French cannot claim support from NATO under its famous Article 5, the collective security component of the NATO Treaty. Should the Russians attack French troops outside of Ukraine it would be justified because France has decided to be a combatant, and forcing an Article 5 vote would seem to be difficult if not impossible. Of course, NATO members individually could support the French, either by sending their own forces or by backstopping the French logistically and in communications. For example, there is no way Foreign Legion soldiers can go to Ukraine without passing through Poland. Will the Russians see this as evidence they are at war both with France and Poland? Right now no one can answer any of these questions with any degree of certainty. It is unlikely the Russians will long tolerate a buildup of French army troops, even if they are Foreign Legion soldiers. What Russia will do in response is not certain.