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Kuleba: 'Fighter jet coalition' to be formed this year

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 17, 2023 11:54 AM 2 min read
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Iraqi counterpart attend a joint press conference in Baghdad on April 17, 2023. (Photo by Ahmad Al- Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images)
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A coalition to provide Ukraine with Western fighter jets will be formed this year, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on national television on May 17.

According to Kuleba, some of Ukraine's allies have expressed their willingness to train Ukrainian soldiers on how to operate Western fighter jets, and other countries are ready to provide the aircraft.

"This is all the result of the international trips made by the president and all of us who work on the diplomatic front. Our priority is the F-16, but we are not canceling other aircraft options. It's like with tanks," Kuleba said.

Once the coalition is formed, "everything will happen very quickly," Kuleba added.

During President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to the U.K. on May 15, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that providing Western fighter jets to Ukraine was "no straightforward thing," but the U.K. was nonetheless prepared to be "a key part of the coalition countries" aiding Ukraine in this endeavor.

The U.K. has promised to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s this summer.

France has also "opened the door" for training Ukrainian pilots on how to use Western fighter jets, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on May 15, as cited by Le Monde, after meeting Zelensky in Paris.

Ukraine has received 14 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland and 13 from Slovakia. However, Ukraine has shown the most interest in the U.S.-built F-16, which has been in service since the 1970s and operated by over 20 nations.

Critics argue that allies' reluctance to supply Western fighter jets and long-range missiles to Ukraine may prolong Russia’s war of aggression and result in thousands of deaths.

Editorial: Arming Ukraine won’t escalate war. Reluctance to do so will
First it was the tanks, now it’s the fighter jets. As Ukraine braces for another possible major Russian offensive in the upcoming weeks, Western leaders are yet again coming up with a variety of excuses why this time, they cannot justify supplying F-16 and F-35 fighter jets to Ukraine.
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