The Hamilton Spectator

Defence minister expects help from warplanes


Ukraine’s defence minister expressed confidence Sunday that western allies would agree to the country’s latest weapons request — warplanes to fight off Russian forces that invaded nearly a year ago.

Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told a news conference in Kyiv that Ukraine has already received everything from its “wish list to Santa,” except planes.

“There will be planes, too,” Reznikov predicted. “The question is just what kind exactly. Consider that this mission is already completed.”

So far, Ukraine has won support from Baltic nations and Poland in its quest to obtain western fighter jets. But several western leaders have expressed concern that providing warplanes could provoke the Kremlin and draw their countries deeper into the conflict, which has cost tens of thousands of lives and wreaked massive destructio­n.

Kyiv says such jets are essential to challengin­g Russia’s air superiorit­y and ensuring success in a Russian offensive that Reznikov predicted could begin around the war’s oneyear anniversar­y, Feb. 24.

“Not all western weapons will arrive by then, but we have the resources and reserves to help stabilize and sustain the offensive,” Reznikov told reporters.

Since the war began, western leaders have balked at some of Ukraine’s requests, such as for longer-range missiles and tanks, only to agree later. The warplanes are the latest example.

Ukraine has relocated its warplanes and concealed air defence assets, hampering Moscow’s efforts to gain full control of the skies. After suffering early losses, the Russian air force has avoided venturing deep into Ukraine’s airspace and mostly focused on close front line support.

The Kremlin has said western countries’ supply of increasing­ly sophistica­ted and more weapons will only prolong the conflict, and it has characteri­zed NATO as a direct participan­t. Reznikov, commenting on the supply of western weapons and the state of the Ukrainian army, took the rhetoric further on Sunday, telling reporters: “I absolutely boldly claim that we have become a de facto NATO country. We only have a de jure part left.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada