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Sunak: Providing fighter jets to Ukraine would be complicated

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 22, 2023 10:12 PM 3 min read
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the 2023 Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18, 2023 in Munich, Germany. (via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Feb. 22 that his country is ready to help other countries that decide to provide fighter jets to Ukraine but argued that supplying them would be complicated.

"Regarding the fighter jets, I said when your president was here that we would be the first country to train Ukrainian pilots to use such fighter jets or other aircraft," he told Ukrainian journalists, as quoted by online newspaper Yevropeiska Pravda. "It's not just about buying them, it's about tactics, and that's a broader part of the plan, which consists in how we can ensure that Ukraine can protect itself not only today but also in the long term."

For the U.K., transferring fighter jets to Ukraine "is not easy" because "there's a whole set of things that come along," he said.

Sunak added that British aircraft are "very different" from those Ukrainian pilots operate.

At the same time, President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said on Feb. 22 that he "doesn't rule out" that the U.K. may become the first country to supply Western fighter jets to Ukraine.

"There are still issues that need to be agreed upon," he wrote on Telegram.

On Feb. 16, the European Parliament called on EU member states to consider providing fighter jets, helicopters, missile systems, and additional ammunition to Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 9 that "several" European leaders had expressed readiness to provide Ukraine with fighter jets and other necessary weapons without further details.

Ukraine needs Western aircraft to put an end to massacre of civilians, achieve victory

Poland is among the few countries that have publicly shown readiness to send fighter jets to Ukraine – but it said the delivery needs NATO approval.

On Feb. 22, Polish President Andrzej Duda told CNN modern weapons are key for Ukraine's defense against Russia and reaffirmed the country's readiness to provide Kyiv with fighter jets.

"If there is such a need, of course, yes," he said about the delivery of fighter jets.

Sweden said it received a request from Ukraine to transfer Gripen fighter aircraft, and it is being considered, while Italy also expressed openness to sending fighter jets to Ukraine alongside other Western allies.

Critics argue that allies’ reluctance to supply F-16, Typhoon and Dassault fighter jets and long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine will prevent Kyiv from launching a counteroffensive and liberating the rest of Ukrainian territory. Ukraine’s lack of advanced aircraft and missiles will likely prolong Russia’s war of aggression and result in thousands of deaths.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has promised to provide Ukraine with GLSDB missiles but they are expected to arrive in nine months, which may be too late.

Editorial: Arming Ukraine won’t escalate war. Reluctance to do so will

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