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UK not to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine immediately

Thursday, 9 February 2023, 12:41

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ruled out the possibility of quickly providing fighter jets to Ukraine.

Source: Ben Wallace in an interview with the BBC

Wallace said that supplying aircraft would potentially take months. The defence secretary said the UK was instead focused on using alternative provision of air cover to Ukraine.

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Speaking at a conference in Rome, Mr Wallace said air support and supporting moving troops could be achieved by using long-range missiles and drones.

He said it was "more realistic and more productive" to envisage the UK providing Ukraine with aircraft in the long term to ensure its security after the war with Russia has ended.

"This is not a simple case of towing an aircraft to the border. Britain knows what Ukraine needs and is very happy to help in many ways trying to achieve the effect. Those same effects can be done, but potentially through a different way – and without taking months," Mr Wallace said. 

Mr Wallace said he had a duty to ensure the UK and NATO had the aircraft needed for their own defence.

He also dismissed suggestions made by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the UK could provide 100 Typhoon warplanes.

Typhoons are made by a coalition of different countries and their permission would be needed before sending them on to Ukraine, he said. He added that the Typhoons which would most likely be supplied are only equipped for air-to-air combat, and not suitable for ground attack.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on 8 February that London is ready to consider providing Ukraine with fighter jets, and the decision to train pilots is actually the first step towards this.

The Russian Embassy in Great Britain warned London against sending fighter jets to Ukraine and threatened a response.

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