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Swedish minister reaffirms willingness to send jets to Ukraine after finalizing NATO bid

by Martin Fornusek and Francis Farrell February 16, 2024 4:00 PM 2 min read
The Swedish Air Force's JAS-39C Gripen during the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on July 21, 2019 in Fairford, England. (Photo credit: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
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Sweden is open to providing Ukraine with modern fighter jets, but the Nordic country first needs a full-fledged NATO membership, Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson told the Kyiv Independent during an interview on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 16.

As Ukraine seeks to bolster its Air Force with modern Western jets, Ukrainian officials have shown interest in Swedish-made Saab JAS 39 Gripen aircraft. Stockholm has previously said it would consider supplying Gripens to Ukraine only once the Nordic country enters NATO.

"For us to make a decision, we have to be full-fledged members of NATO and be part of Article 5. This is also a decision that has to be done in collaboration with others," Jonson told a Kyiv Independent reporter.

"Ukraine needs fourth-generation and fifth-generation fighter aircraft. If we, one way or another, can help you (Ukraine), we are open to that," the minister said.

Jonson pointed out that allied efforts are currently focused on supplying Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. Countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, and Norway have pledged to donate some of their F-16s to Ukraine.

"But if we can assist in any way, we are glad to look into it as well."

Although Sweden applied to join NATO in 2022, shortly after the start of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the process has been long delayed by Hungary and Turkey.

After the Turkish parliament finally ratified Sweden's bid earlier this year, Budapest remains as the only holdout.

F-16s for Ukraine: When will they arrive and what can they do?
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American air superiority fighter that Kyiv has begged for since the start of the full-scale invasion and is expected to finally start receiving this year. It’s a versatile workhorse of a jet that’s fought in dozens of wars and is
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