The question of whether the U.K. can deliver fighter jets to Ukraine in the “long-term” has been put to Rishi Sunak’s military commander.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson stated Wednesday that Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is currently “actively looking at whether we send jets” to Ukraine during a surprise visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the United Kingdom.
He told reporters: “The PM has tasked the defense secretary with investigating what jets we might be able to give — but to be clear this is a long-term solution.”
The remarks were made just hours after Zelenskyy delivered a rare speech to both houses of the British parliament, during which the Ukrainian leader renewed his call for his nation to receive fighter jets in order to fend off Russia’s invasion.
France will be Zelenskyy’s next destination, according to a Parisian official.
While stating that the U.K. would continue to “listen closely” to Ukrainian demands for assistance, Downing Street has previously stated that giving Ukraine highly complicated jets that require lengthy training is not “realistic.”
Sunak’s spokesperson stated on Wednesday that no decision has been made on the provision of planes and that the U.K. is adopting a “multi-year approach to our support for Ukraine.”
As Kyiv braces for an anticipated Russian invasion, Zelenskyy earlier addressed a group of MPs, peers, and journalists in Westminster Hall, the historic heart of the British parliament.
He had a conversation with Sunak and will have a meeting with King Charles III.
The U.K. will now train pilots on how to operate fighter jets that meet NATO standards, the British prime minister stated on Wednesday.
Along with that, British training for new Ukrainian military recruits will be increased this year from 10,000 to 20,000 personnel.
The U.K. is hoping to receive the first Ukrainian pilots for training in the spring, according to Sunak’s representative, who also stated that the effort will involve training them to fly British planes.