The U.K. will focus on ensuring Kyiv can defend itself in the long run rather than sending fighter jets to Ukraine, U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told BBC on Feb. 15, citing practical issues.
Wallace said that if the British government were to give fighter jets, it would also have to provide about 200 Royal Air Force Personnel.
Wallace also said that the international community has provided Ukraine with thousands of surface-to-air missiles, drones, and longer-range missiles, which have the “same effects.”
The statement comes after Germany said that fighter jets were not the focus for now, and that the priority was to ensure the safety of the airspace over Ukraine, which requires an operational air defense system with enough ammunition.
Following the latest Ramstein meeting on Feb. 14, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters in Brussels that he has “nothing to report” regarding the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine.
A decision to provide Ukraine with Western fighter jets is “not the most urgent issue now,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Feb. 14.
Earlier, several Western officials also told the Financial Times that Ukraine’s needs for ammunition and air defense outweighed longer-term requests, such as fighter jets, as Russia has started its new offensive.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 9 that “several” European leaders expressed readiness to provide Ukraine with fighter jets and other necessary weapons without further details.
Meanwhile, only Poland has publicly shown readiness to send fighter jets to Ukraine – but it said the delivery needs NATO approval.
The West has been reluctant to transfer aircraft to Ukraine after green-lighting supplies of modern tanks amid fears of escalating tensions with Russia.