Sergey Lavrov
© Sputnik/Ramil SitdikovRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The French president's remarks were intended to serve as a "distraction" for voters at home, the Russian foreign minister believes.

Remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron that the West could send troops to Ukraine appear to be aimed at boosting his plummeting domestic popularity, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

Macron openly raised the possibility of putting NATO troops on the ground in Ukraine last month, saying that "we cannot exclude anything" and that the West "will do everything necessary to prevent Russia from winning this war."

Numerous Western nations have since denied they have plans to deploy troops to Ukraine, a position later confirmed by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

The French leader, however, appeared to stand by his comments earlier this month, insisting that "all options are possible." Meanwhile, Politico has reported that Paris "is building an alliance of countries open to potentially sending Western troops to Ukraine," which it said could include Baltic states.

In an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia published on Friday, Lavrov suggested that Macron's remarks were unscripted. "Later, he and his entourage walked them back somewhat. But in several days, he reiterated this idea," the minister said.

Stoltenberg and several NATO leaders had reminded Macron that all decisions in the US-led bloc are made on a collective basis, Lavrov noted.

The Russian foreign minister suggested that the French statements on Ukraine are "designed exclusively to do PR for the president in a situation where he does not fare well at home." This media activity and calls to defeat Russia, Lavrov added, "are necessary to create some kind of distraction."

According to a Morning Consult poll, which measured the popularity of leaders in "developed democracies," 71% of respondents disapprove of Macron's performance, second only to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's numbers (73% disapproval).

Even Ukraine, which has pleaded for more Western support throughout the conflict, insisted it does not need NATO troops on the ground. Kiev's foreign minister, Dmitry Kuleba, also suggested that Macron's remarks had been misinterpreted, and that he was alluding to the "possibility of training Ukrainian soldiers directly in Ukraine."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that NATO troop deployments in Ukraine would not change the situation on the battlefield, given that Western soldiers are already active in the country as military advisers and mercenaries. He nonetheless warned that the ramifications of such a move would be "tragic."