After tank pledge, Ukraine seeks Western fighter jets

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A week after winning the promise of an advanced modern tank, Ukraine is urging its Western allies to supply it with fighter jets Helped it repel Russian invading forces after nearly a year of fighting.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov will discuss the possible delivery of fighter jets in Paris on Tuesday A trip to Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda.

After months of haggling, Ukrainian authorities last week convinced Western allies Send tanks. The decision was made despite hesitation and caution by some NATO members, including the United States and Germany.

There was no sign that a decision on sending warplanes to Ukraine might be imminent, or that Western countries had changed their earlier stance on the issue. Some Western leaders expressed concern that the move could escalate the nearly year-long conflict and draw them deeper into the war.

The British government, one of Kyiv’s staunchest diplomatic backers and military suppliers, said it was “impractical” to send its fighter jets.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman Max Blain said: “The UK’s Typhoon and F-35 fighter jets are so advanced they take months to learn to fly.”

“Given this, we do not think it is practical to send these jets to Ukraine,” he said on Tuesday, although he did not say that Britain was opposed to sending planes by other countries.

Asked by a reporter on Monday whether his administration was considering sending Ukrainian F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden replied “no.”

Kyiv officials have repeatedly urged allies to send jets, They are said to be critical to challenging Russia’s air superiority and ensuring the success of future counteroffensives, which the West has recently promised tanks that could lead.

Ukraine’s allies have also ruled out supplying Kyiv with long-range missiles capable of hitting Russian territory, suggesting they are taking a similar cautious approach to warplanes.

Asked on Tuesday about the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated the Kremlin’s view that “NATO has long been directly involved in a hybrid war against Russia.”

He added after talks in Moscow with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that the Russian military would “take all necessary measures to undermine the realization of Western plans”.

He said Shukry relayed a message from U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about Ukraine, repeating earlier Washington calls for Russia to withdraw its troops.

“Russia is ready to listen to any serious — I want to emphasize this word — proposals aimed at a comprehensive solution to the current situation,” Lavrov said.

Both Ukraine and Russia are believed to be building up their arsenals for an expected offensive in the coming months. The war was largely stalemate on the battlefield during the winter.

As in previous debates about how to help Ukraine, Poland is a leading advocate of EU military aid. Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic states on NATO’s eastern flank feel particularly threatened by Russia.

Asked about Lithuania’s request for fighter jets and long-range missiles for Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the comments “reflect the aggressive approach taken by the Baltic states and Poland, which are ready to challenge at any cost.” to escalate the situation without regard to the consequences.”

“It is very sad that the leaders of the European powers who are pushing the European agenda do not play a balancing role to counteract this extremist tendency,” Peskov said on a conference call with reporters.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that France would not rule out sending fighter jets to Ukraine, but he put a number of conditions before taking such an important step.

He said the conditions included not leading to an escalation of tensions or the use of the aircraft “to contact Russian territory” and not leading to a weakening of the “capabilities of the French military”.

He also said Ukraine would also have to formally apply for the planes, which could happen when Reznikov sits down for talks in Paris.

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz appeared to be hesitant about the prospect of supplying the fighter jets, suggesting on Sunday that the reason for the whole discussion could come down to “domestic political motivations” in certain countries.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday there was “no taboo” in efforts to help Ukraine. But he added that the mission jet “would be a very important next step”.

Meanwhile, the president of NATO member Croatia criticized Western countries for supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and other weapons.President Zoran Milanovic argues These arms deliveries will only prolong the war.

Early in the conflict, discussions centered on the possibility of supplying Kyiv with the Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters familiar to Ukrainian pilots. In March, the Pentagon rejected a Polish offer to move its MiG-29 fighter jets to Kyiv via a US base in Germany, citing the high risk of sparking an escalation of the conflict between Russia and NATO.

Western fighter jets will provide Ukraine with a major boost, but countering Russia’s massive air force will remain a major challenge.

Ukraine has inherited a large number of Soviet-made warplanes, including the Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters and the Su-25 ground attack aircraft.

Switching to Western aircraft would require lengthy training for Ukrainian aircrew and would also present logistical challenges related to maintenance and repair.

Russia methodically targeted Ukrainian air bases and anti-aircraft batteries early in the conflict, but Ukraine deftly diverted fighter jets and concealed air defense assets, preventing Russia from fully controlling its air superiority.

After suffering heavy losses early in the conflict, the Russian Air Force avoided penetrating deep into Ukrainian airspace, focusing primarily on front-line close support missions.

The Ukrainian Air Force faces a similar challenge trying to save its remaining warplanes from Russian fighter jets and air defenses.


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