Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC on Feb. 9 that there won’t be an immediate transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine, but did not exclude the possibility of supplying them.
Speaking at a conference in Rome, Wallace said that it potentially takes months to give fighter jets to a third country to use in the conflict, adding the U.K. was considering alternative ways to help Ukraine protect its sky, such as through the transfer of longer-range missiles and drones.
It would be “more realistic and more productive” for the U.K. to consider providing fighter jets to Ukraine in the long term, especially since “this is not a simple case of towing an aircraft to the border,” according to the defense secretary.
"Britain knows what Ukraine needs and is very happy to help in many ways trying to achieve the effect,” he told the BBC. "Those same effects can be done, but potentially through a different way – and without taking months, which of course, gifting fighter jets would take."
Wallace’s interview comes a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky visited London, where he met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and addressed the British parliament.
Following the Zelensky-Sunak meeting, the Prime Minister said that “nothing is off the table,” even when it comes to the possible transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine.
On Feb. 8, a Downing Street spokesman also told reporters that the prime minister had asked Wallace to start “investigating what jets we might be able to give — but to be clear, this is a long-term solution.”