Ukraine renews calls for US F-16s, German fighter jets after countries reverse decision on sending tanks
Ukrainian officials have renewed calls for the United States and Germany to supply them with fighter jets in their ongoing fight with Russia, after the two Western allies changed their decision on supplying tanks.
The U.S. and Germany previously said they would not send over the armored fighting vehicles but reversed the decision after further negotiations, ultimately agreeing to send more than 30 Abrams M1 tanks and 14 Leopard 2 tanks, respectively.
Ukrainian officials are now engaged in “fast-track” talks for long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top Ukrainian presidential aide said Saturday.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Ukraine’s supporters in the West “understand how the war is developing” and the need for planes capable of providing cover for the tanks they pledged to send.
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Podolyak said some of Ukraine’s Western partners maintain a “conservative” attitude to sending advanced weaponry “due to fear of changes in the international architecture.”
“We need to work with this. We must show (our partners) the real picture of this war,” Podolyak said in remarks to online video channel Freedom. “We must speak reasonably and tell them, for example, ‘This and this will reduce fatalities, this will reduce the burden on infrastructure. This will reduce security threats to the European continent, this will keep the war localized.’ And we are doing it.”
Podolyak did not identify any partnering countries.
Russia, which has received its own arms and supplies from China, North Korea, and Iran, has accused the West of providing Kyiv with increasingly sophisticated weapons. Russian officials say supplying Ukraine with weapons constitutes “direct involvement.”
Germany and the United States announced Wednesday they would send advanced battle tanks along with the Bradley and Marder vehicles to Ukraine and train Ukrainian troops to use them in an effort to help Kyiv make breakthroughs in combat stalemates.
The decision was met with groans and criticism from the Kremlin, which continues to criticize Western interference.
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German Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius said Ukrainian troops will learn how to operate the German-made Leopard 2 tanks at a training site in Germany by the end of the month.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense took to Twitter Wednesday to celebrate the start of the training.
Zelenskyy also thanked the U.S. for the military aid.
“Thank you @POTUS for another powerful decision to provide Abrams to [Ukraine]. Grateful to [the U.S.] people for leadership support!” he wrote Wednesday. “It’s an important step on the path to victory. Today the free world is united as never before for a common goal – liberation of [Ukraine].”
“We’re moving forward,” he added.
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In another tweet, he wrote: “German main battle tanks, further broadening of defense support & training missions, green light for partners to supply similar weapons. Just heard about these important & timely decisions in a call with [German chancellor] Olaf Scholz. Sincerely grateful.”
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The Russia-Ukraine invasion will hit its one-year mark next month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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