Former NATO general Petr Pavel, who recently won the Czech presidential election, said on Feb. 1 that NATO should let Ukraine join the alliance “as soon as the war is over,” emphasizing that Ukrainians are “morally and practically ready” as they defend their nation from a brutal Russian invasion.
Ukraine officially applied for fast-track NATO membership in September 2022, in a defiant move against Moscow, which has threatened Kyiv against seeking to join the Western alliance for years.
In the BBC broadcast interview, Pavel also said that Western nations should have “almost no limits” to what they should send to equip the Ukrainian military, which is set to receive dozens of advanced Western tanks in the coming months.
But even with Western nations now pledging tanks for Ukraine, including those that opposed the transfer of such equipment over fears of “escalation,” Pavel said.
Pavel said that he did not consider sending Western fighter jets, such as F-16s, to Ukraine to be a “taboo,” but he was not sure whether the aircraft would be delivered in the timeframe that Kyiv needs.
The West has so far sent mixed signals regarding the possible transfer of Western combat jets.
U.S. president Joe Biden turned down Kyiv's request for F-16s with a "no," while London said recently that such deliveries were "not practical," citing that U.K.'s F-35 fighter jets are "extremely sophisticated" and takes "months" to learn how to fly them.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said he does not rule out supplying fighter jets to Ukraine, but he warned that such a move could escalate the war.
"Nothing is excluded in principle," Macron said on Jan. 30, adding that Ukraine has not made a request for them yet.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz immediately dismissed Kyiv's pleas for Western fighter jets."The question of fighter planes does not even arise," Scholz told the German Tagesspiegel newspaper on Jan. 29.