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French public oppose Nato action to defend ally

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French public oppose Nato action to defend ally
French troops on a NATO exercise in Poland. But the public don't want to see them in Ukraine. fighting Russia. Photo: AFP
11:08 CEST+02:00
A majority of the French public oppose their country using military force to defend a Nato ally in the event of an attack from Russia, but if things do kick off they expect the US to step in, new research shows.

The poll carried out by the Pew Research Centre found that the French, just like the Germans and Italians, are against using military force in the event of a Russian attack on a Nato ally, for example the Baltic states like Estonia and Latvia.

Some 53 percent of the French public are opposed to military intervention if "Russia got into a serious military conflict with one of its neighbouring countries that is our Nato ally"

That compares to 58 percent of those polled in Germany and 51 percent in Italy.

Those views are despite Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty stating that Nato members are required to defend an ally with armed intervention if required.

Perhaps that reluctance of the French to see Nato forces intervene can be explained by the fact that the French, like the Germans, have grown less enthusiastic towards the organisation in recent years with fewer people holding a positive view of the organisation.

Although there has been a slight upturn since 2013.

But if there was an attack on a Nato member by Russian forces, the French, like most European members of Nato, would expect the US to step in.

Some 65 percent of French people think "the US would use military force to defend that country". The percentage was similar among the Germans (68), British (66), Italians (68) and Spanish (70) who were polled.

The poll is published as hostilities in the east of Ukraine flare up once again.

The French public like the rest of Nato’s European nations are against sending arms to the Ukrainian government, they do support providing aid to Ukraine and would also back the eastern European country becoming a fully-fledged member of the organisation.

However the French are not so keen on the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU, with 53 percent opposed to the idea.

French President François Hollande has been at the forefront of efforts to end the crisis in eastern Ukraine and has repeatedly called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to enforce the peace accords agreed in Minsk earlier this year.

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