Ukraine Implements Western Fighter Jets After Tank Purchases

A woman prays at St. Michael’s Golden-domed Monastery in kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Ukraine received support on Tuesday from the Baltic states and Poland in its quest to acquire Western fighter jets, but there are no signs that major countries such as the United States and Britain have changed their stance on refusing to provide fighter jets to kyiv. After almost a year of fighting Russian invasion forces.

“Ukraine needs fighter planes… missiles, tanks. We must act,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told a news conference with his Baltic and Polish counterparts in the Latvian capital Riga. Countries on the eastern flank of NATO feel particularly threatened by Russia and have been the main advocates of military aid.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov held talks with his French counterpart and said they did not discuss it. Specific fighter jets, but they did talk about air “bases” to help Ukraine’s ground-to-air defense.

“I don’t know how fast this response from the Western allies will be” to kyiv’s demands for fighter jets, Reznikov said. “I am optimistic and I believe that everything will end as soon as possible.”

He also listed the weapons Ukraine had sought in the past year, starting with stingers, saying the first answer was always “Impossible.” Ultimately, he said, “it’s possible.”

Speaking to Reznikov, French Defense Minister SĂ©bastien Lecornu said sending fighter jets was not prohibited. He also confirmed that France would send 12 more Caesar guns in the coming weeks.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that France had not ruled out sending fighter jets, but had set conditions before such a move was made, not to escalate tensions or use the plane to “touch Russian soil” and not weaken it. «French Army Capabilities».

Reznikov’s visit came a week after Western nations pledged to deploy sophisticated weapons. Modern tanks.

Many Western leaders have expressed concern that providing fighter jets could escalate the conflict and drag it deeper.

The UK government, one of kyiv’s staunch supporters and military suppliers, said it was “impractical” to send its fighter jets. Max Blaine, a spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said on Tuesday that “the UK’s Typhoon and F-35 fighter jets are very sophisticated and will take months to learn to fly”, although he stopped short of saying London was opposed to such a move. others. countries that send the planes.

Asked Monday if his administration was considering sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden replied: “No.”

On Tuesday, Reznikov was asked if Biden’s “no” to the F-16 was the last word.

“All forms of aid went through the ‘no’ stage first,” he said. “It just means ‘no’ at this particular time today. The second step is, ‘Let’s talk and study the technical possibilities.’ The third level is, ‘You can train your employees.’ The fourth phase (equipment) is transfer.

Ukraine Passed Those Stages Before Acquiring High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems

Reznikov said Ukraine passed those stages before acquiring High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or Himars, Bradley armored vehicles and 155mm guns.

“Remember the story of the German cheetahs: the answer is ‘no,'” he added. Now we have a tank alliance. So I think an airline alliance will come along. But first there must always be a leader. That’s why I’m here”.

Kyiv has repeatedly urged the Allies to send in jets. They are essential to challenge Russian air superiority and ensure the success of future counterattacks led by Western tanks.

The West has rejected Kyiv’s delivery of long-range missiles capable of striking Russian territory, citing possible escalation.

After months of haggling, despite reluctance and caution from some NATO members, the Western allies agreed to send the tanks last week.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz postponed the delivery of fighter jets, suggesting on Sunday that the reason for the debate could be “internal political reasons” in some countries.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday there were “no obstacles” to efforts to help Ukraine, but said the planes would be “a very big next step.”

When asked on Tuesday about Western arms supplies to Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated the Kremlin’s view that “NATO has long been directly involved in a hybrid war against Russia.” .

After talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shogri in Moscow, he said the Russian military would “take all necessary measures to comply with Western plans.”

He said Shogri delivered a message from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Ukraine, which echoed Washington’s calls for Russia to withdraw. Lavrov said: “Russia is ready to listen to any serious proposal, I would like to underline this word, aimed at a comprehensive solution of the current situation.”

Both Ukraine and Russia are believed to be building up their arsenals for an expected offensive in the coming months after a winter stalemate on the battlefield.

When asked about Lithuania’s order for warplanes and long-range missiles for Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it “reflects the aggressive attitude of the Baltic states and Poland, which are ready to do whatever they can.” possible to provoke further escalation without thinking about the consequences.”

Meanwhile, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic criticized the West for supplying Ukraine with tanks and other weapons. he argued. Such renditions will only prolong the war.

Early in the conflict, discussions centered on the supply of Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Kyiv, familiar to Ukrainian pilots. In March, the Pentagon rejected a Polish proposal to transfer its MiG-29s to Kyiv via a US base in Germany, citing the risk of sparking an escalation between Russia and NATO.

Ukraine maintains a significant fleet of Soviet-made combat aircraft, including Su-27 and MiG-29 fighter jets and Su-25 ground-attack aircraft. The transition to Western aircraft requires Ukrainian crews to undergo lengthy training and poses logistical challenges in maintenance and repair.

Russia systematically targeted Ukrainian airbases and air defense batteries in the early stages of the war, but Ukraine redeployed its fighter jets and hid air defense assets, resulting in Moscow being unable to gain full control of them. Heavens.

After heavy initial losses, the Russian Air Force avoided entering Ukrainian airspace and focused primarily on frontline close support missions.

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