The Hamilton Spectator

Ukraine pushes to get western fighter jets

U.K. says sending its planes is ‘not practical,’ but not opposed to other countries helping out


KYIV, UKRAINE Ukraine won support Tuesday from Baltic nations and Poland in its quest to obtain western fighter jets, but there were no signs that larger nations like the U.S. and Britain have changed their stance of refusing to provide warplanes to Kyiv after almost a year of battling Russia’s invading forces.

“Ukraine needs fighter jets … missiles, tanks. We need to act,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in the Latvian capital of Riga at a news conference with his Baltic and Polish colleagues.

Those countries, which lie on NATO’s eastern flank, feel especially threatened by Russia and have been the leading advocates for providing military aid.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov held talks with his French counterpar­t, saying they did not discuss specific fighter jets, but they did talk about aviation “platforms” to help Ukraine’s ground-to-air defence.

“I don’t know how quick it will be, this response from western allies” to Kyiv’s requests for fighter jets, Reznikov said. “I’m optimistic and I think it will be as soon as possible.”

He also listed weapons Ukraine has sought in the past year, starting with Stingers, and said the first response was always, “Impossible.” Eventually though, he said, “it became possible.’’

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, speaking with Reznikov, said there are “no taboos” on sending fighter jets. He also confirmed France is sending 12 more Caesar cannons in the coming weeks.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that France doesn’t exclude sending fighter jets, but set out conditions before such a step is taken, including not leading to an escalation of tensions or using the aircraft “to touch Russian soil,” and not resulting in weakening “the capacities of the French army.”

Reznikov’s trip came a week after western nations pledged to send Kyiv sophistica­ted modern tanks.

Several western leaders have expressed concern that providing warplanes could escalate the conflict and draw them in deeper. The U.K. government, among Kyiv’s staunchest supporters, said sending its fighter jets is “not practical.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokespers­on, Max Blain, said Tuesday that “the U.K.’s Typhoon and F-35 fighter jets are extremely sophistica­ted and take months to learn how to fly,” although he didn’t say London was opposed to other nations sending planes.

Ukraine needs fighter jets … missiles, tanks. We need to act.


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