Kyiv's Western allies at odds over sending fighter jets to Ukraine

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By Euronews  with AP
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Euronews

The US, Germany, the UK and several Western allies have expressed concern over providing warplanes to Ukraine saying the move could escalate the conflict now in its eleventh month.

However, Kyiv won support on Tuesday from Poland and the Baltic nations in its quest to obtain Western fighter jets.

“Ukraine needs fighter jets ... missiles, tanks. We need to act,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in the Latvian capital of Riga at a news conference with his Baltic and Polish colleagues.

 The UK government, among Kyiv’s staunchest supporters and military suppliers, said sending its fighter jets is “not practical.” 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman, Max Blain, said Tuesday that “the UK's Typhoon and F-35 fighter jets are extremely sophisticated and take months to learn how to fly," although he didn’t say London was opposed to other nations sending planes.

When asked on Monday if his administration was considering sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden responded, “No.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also shut down the subject of providing fighter jets. On Sunday he said the reason for the discussion might be “domestic political motives” in some countries.

France, meanwhile, is sitting on the fence. Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu, who held talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov in Paris on Tuesday, said there are “no taboos” on sending fighter jets. He also confirmed France is sending 12 more Caesar cannons in the coming weeks.

This follows President Emmanuel Macron's comments on Monday that France hasn't excluded sending fighter jets to Ukraine but would need to set out conditions before such a step.

Conditions to prevent the escalation of tensions or weakening “the capacities of the French army.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also said Monday that there were “no taboos” in efforts to help Ukraine but added that jets “would be a very big next step.”

Kyiv has repeatedly urged allies to send jets, calling them essential to challenging Russia’s air superiority and ensuring the success of future counteroffensives spearheaded by Western tanks.