Update (1410ET): Given the UK government clearly said it is “exploring” the possibility of sending fighter aircraft to Ukraine, namely its Typhoon jets, upon a visit by Ukraine’s Zelensky to London, Russia has responded fiercely. Prime Minister Sunak earlier explained:
“The first step in being able to provide advanced aircrafts is to have soldiers or aviators that are capable of using them. That is a process that takes some time. We’ve started that process today,” Sunak said at a news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after announcing Britain would train Ukrainian pilots.
“Nothing is off the table and our leadership on this issue is something that we all collectively should be very proud of.”
Russia’s embassy to UK quickly warned of “military and political consequences for the European continent and the entire world” in response.
As for the US, the Pentagon on the same day said it still has “nothing to announce” regarding potential deliveries of fighter jets to Ukraine. Of course, this is all something we heard before regarding tanks, which recently has been approved.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed up in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, making a surprise visit to the leadership of a country which has been one of Ukraine’s biggest backers since the start of the Russian invasion.
It is only Zelensky’s second known trip out of Ukraine since the war began, the first being his appearance before US Congress in December. He met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing St., just before Sunak announced that Britain will train more Ukrainian troops. Zelensky in a special address to parliament made it no secret what he was there to push for…
Sunak mentioned training fighter jet pilots, in what appears anticipation of NATO allies’ future approval of providing Western jets. It remains that there’s still significant European opposition to providing jets, but Sunak in a press release said the training is to “ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets in the future.”
Sunak further pledged missiles and weapons systems with “longer range capabilities and vowed Wednesday, “We will continue to support Ukraine to ensure a decisive military victory on the battlefield this year.”
“The United Kingdom was one of the first to come to Ukraine’s aid,” Zelensky said upon arriving in Britain. “Today I’m in London to personally thank the British people for their support and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his leadership.”
In his special guest address to parliament, Zelensky hailed the UK’s unwavering support of Kiev, saying Britain is “marching with us to the most important victory of our lifetime.”
And of course, he took the opportunity to renew his appeal for Western combat jets. “Combat aircraft for Ukraine,” he said. “Wings for freedom.”
“Two years ago, I left Parliament thanking you for the delicious English tea. Today I will leave Parliament thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes,” said Volodymyr Zelensky in an address to MPs. –Axios
Zelensky also was greeted by King Charles III during a visit Buckingham Palace. Apparently allowed an extremely rare exception when it comes to royal protocol, Zelensky was not in suit and tie, but kept his olive green sweatshirt.
Later in the day, reporters pressed 10 Downing St on whether this means the UK government has made the decision to send British fighter jets to Ukraine, to which the response was that Britain is “not looking to send Typhoon jets to Ukraine right now.”
A Sunak spokesperson further said that any package involving jets would be part of a “long-terms solution” – which suggests this would be done in cooperation with other Western allies, who aren’t yet on the same page.
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