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Wallace: UK can enable other countries to send Ukraine fighter jets, but its own role is 'limited'

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 17, 2023 8:35 PM 3 min read
F-16 fighters durning military parade in Warsaw on the day of the Polish army on Aug. 15, 2018, Warsaw, Poland. (Krystian Dobuszynski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The U.K. can assist nations that wish to provide Ukraine with fighter jets, but its own role is "limited," U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on May 17, Sky News reported.

"What we can obviously contribute is training and support within limits because we don't have F-16 pilots," Wallace said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart Boris Pistorius.

A day before, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte agreed to build an "international coalition" to help procure F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine. Earlier, the U.K. promised to train Ukrainian pilots on fighter aircraft this summer, and France also "opened the door" for such training.

Meanwhile, Pistorius told reporters, as cited by Sky News, that Germany "cannot play an active role in such an alliance because we have neither the training capacities, the competencies or the planes."

Ukraine has been requesting fighters for months to defend its skies and maximize the effectiveness of its combined arms forces during a future counteroffensive. Of all the available models, Ukraine has shown the most interest in the U.S.-built F-16, in service since the 1970s and operated by over 20 nations.

Ukraine needs Western aircraft to put an end to massacre of civilians, achieve victory
Russia’s air force has proven insufficiently effective when it comes to crushing Ukrainian resistance. Despite heavily outnumbering Ukraine’s air force, Russia has failed to achieve total air supremacy, with the skies over Ukraine still being contested. And yet there is one aspect in which Russia’s…

At the May 17 news conference, Wallace said that "it's up to the U.S. to decide if they want to release this (F-16's) technology," calling claims about "massive difference" between U.S.-made F-16 jets and Soviet-era MiGs "misleading."

Ukraine's military has said that the country needs more advanced aircraft than MiG-29 fighter jets provided by Poland and Slovakia in order to defeat Russia. However, Washington has recently ruled out sending F-16 jets to Ukraine for now.

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.

Editorial: Arming Ukraine won’t escalate war. Reluctance to do so will
First it was the tanks, now it’s the fighter jets. As Ukraine braces for another possible major Russian offensive in the upcoming weeks, Western leaders are yet again coming up with a variety of excuses why this time, they cannot justify supplying F-16 and F-35 fighter jets to Ukraine.
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