March 2. 2024. 3:36

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Ukraine interested in Finland’s ageing fighters, calls for trilateral talks with US


Ukraine is proposing to hold trilateral talks with Finland, and the US about the ageing Finnish jets, which Prime Minister Sanna Marin suggested could be sent to Ukraine in talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv earlier this month, Finnish media reported on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Marin suggested Ukraine could obtain fighter jets from the Finnish F/A-18 Hornet fleet that is set to be replaced by Lockheed Martin F-35s – the first of which are set to arrive in 2026 – a move that was highly criticised in Finland.

Still, Ukraine does not want to let go of the proposal and is suggesting having the US join trilateral talks as donating Hornets requires their permission, unnamed foreign and security policy sources told several Finnish media.

In Finland, amid a general election campaign, Marin (SDP) continues to defend her position and sees no reason why fighter jets cannot be discussed, but declined to go into more detail as she arrived at the Brussels Summit on Thursday.

”If someone wants to discuss, then let’s discuss. No problem,” President Sauli Niinistö, who, according to the Constitution, is in charge of foreign and security policy, told the media.

“I will personally not be involved in anything jeopardising Finland’s defence capability [..] It is not a simple thing just to give away worn-out fighter jets,” he added.

“In the coming years, Finland needs the Hornets for its own defence,” said Kaikonnen, adding that the issue is not of acute relevance according to the Finnish defence authorities.

Still, Ukraine would receive a response “in the coming weeks”, he added.

Finland will send its 14th military aid package to Ukraine worth €161 million, which includes heavy weapons, ammunition and three Leopard 2 mine-clearing tanks, Kaikonnen also announced. Finland has sent €910 million worth of military aid to Ukraine.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)