Russia cautions against Western warplanes for Kiev
Russia will achieve its goals in the conflict with Ukraine regardless of whether the UK provides Kiev with fighter jets, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. The comments came after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky pleaded with British MPs for warplanes.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Peskov said the UK, Germany, and France are becoming increasingly involved in the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. “The line between indirect and direct involvement is gradually disappearing,” said the presidential spokesman, adding that this fuels further escalation.
According to Peskov, Western arms shipments are “prolonging this conflict, making [it] more painful and torturous for Ukraine.”
Western efforts to shore up the Ukrainian military will not change the outcome of the hostilities or the “trajectory that our country is following in terms of reaching [its] goals,” he stated.
President Zelensky paid an official visit to London on Wednesday. Speaking to British lawmakers in the House of Commons, he asked the UK to provide combat aircraft for Ukraine, describing fighter jets as “wings for freedom.”
Despite those pleas, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has not committed to sending warplanes, but did state that “when it comes to co-operation and military assistance to Ukraine, nothing is off the table.”
Sunak also announced that Ukrainian pilots will receive training on British soil. Downing Street later revealed that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had been asked to examine “what jets we might be able to give [to Ukraine].” It noted, however, that this was a “medium- to long-term” possibility.
Unnamed UK officials cited by the Financial Times estimated that it would take at least six months to train experienced Ukrainian pilots to fly Western jets, such as Eurofighter Typhoons. Taking logistics into consideration, that could mean warplanes would be unlikely to arrive in Ukraine before early 2024.
One British cabinet minister was quoted by The Times as saying: “Everyone will remember the phrase ‘wings for freedom’ and I don’t see how [Zelensky] isn’t going to end up getting what he wants on that.”
After several Western nations agreed to supply tanks to Ukraine, officials in Kiev began pleading for fighter jets. They have repeatedly called for US-made F-16s that can intercept cruise missiles and drones.