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UK to look into sending combat planes to Ukraine
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asked Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to look into which warplanes the U.K. can provide to Ukraine, after meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in London on Feb. 8.
After his surprise visit to the British capital, Zelensky thanked the U.K. for its support and asked Western allies for combat jets, saying Ukraine needs them to defeat the Russian forces. "We have freedom, give us wings to protect it," the Ukrainian leader told the U.K. parliament.
Sunak's spokesperson said Wallace is "actively looking at whether we send jets" to Ukraine but added that this is a "long-term solution."
Sunak also said that the U.K. will train pilots to operate NATO-standard fighter jets and will receive the first batch of Ukrainian trainees in the spring. They will be taught to operate British planes.
Just over a week ago, the British government said it was "not practical" to send jets to Ukraine, as they are extremely complicated pieces of equipment that take months to learn to fly.
Western allies recently agreed to send modern main battle tanks to Ukraine, as well as older Western designs, after months of hesitation. Ukraine expects to receive up to 140 tanks from 12 countries during the first wave of deliveries, according to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Serhiy Zgurets, the director of consulting company Defense Express said that for maximum effectiveness, the tanks will need to be used in combined-arms operations, including mechanized infantry and aircraft.