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Swedish PM: No plans to provide Swedish-made fighter jets to Ukraine

by The Kyiv Independent news desk August 21, 2023 6:05 PM 2 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Harpsund, south-west of Stockholm, Sweden on Aug. 19, 2023. (Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

There are no plans to provide Ukraine with Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets due to what Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said was a "balancing act" between what his country can spare and what it needs for itself given it is not yet in NATO.

"We will do everything to support them with air, but right now there are no new commitments to provide Swedish aircraft to Ukraine," Kristersson told Swedish TV4 Channel, adding that "Sweden is a geographically large country, we have to defend ourselves and we are not yet in NATO."

President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Sweden on Aug. 19. as part of a diplomatic trip that included Denmark and the Netherlands to discuss military aid, particularly fighter jets for Ukraine. Following the visits, Zelensky announced that in total, Ukraine would receive 61 U.S.-made fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands combined.

During the Sweden visit, Zelensky said that Ukrainian pilots had begun test flights on the Gripen jets and that he and Kristersson had discussed their potential transfer to Ukraine.

"We also talked about another strong Swedish machine, the Gripen aircraft. This is the pride of Sweden. And I am sure that Gripens can make our freedom much more secure," Zelensky said on Aug. 19.

"We do not have superiority in the sky. We do not have modern aircraft. And the Swedish Gripen is the pride of your state. And I believe the Prime Minister could share such pride with Ukraine," he said.

Kristersson also noted that Sweden is part of the F-16 coalition in which 14 countries are cooperating to ensure that Ukraine boosts its air force.

The Netherlands and Denmark have spearheaded the international training coalition on F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine. Announced at the NATO summit in Vilnius, along with nine other allies, the coalition is set to ensure training of the Ukrainian Air Force in using F-16 fighter jets.

Ukraine has been lobbying to receive U.S.-made F-16s since the first days of Russia's full-scale invasion.  Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said F-16 fighter jets could help counter Russia's air superiority, which is necessary to achieve success on the battlefield.

Ukrainian pilots, engineers, and technicians have already started a six-month training session on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on national television on Aug. 19.

Ukraine's Air Force comprises Soviet-made aircraft and is outnumbered by Russia's larger Air Force, thwarting Ukraine's ability to conduct counteroffensives.

Ukraine war latest: Kyiv to receive 42 F-16 fighter jets, with first aircraft set to arrive in 2023
Key developments on Aug. 20: * Zelensky says Ukraine to receive 42 U.S.-built fighter jets * Denmark pledges delivery of 19 F-16s to Ukraine * Zelensky rules out territorial concessions to Russia * Official: 156 injured in Russian Aug. 19 missile strike on Chernihiv * Russian governor claims 1…
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