March 2. 2024. 2:13

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Britain looks into supplying fighter jets to Ukraine

The British government has promised to step up the supply of arms to Ukraine and said it is examining what fighter jets it could provide, in response to a plea in London on Wednesday from Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

A spokesman for British prime minister Rishi Sunak confirmed he had asked defence secretary Ben Wallace to look into whether warplanes could be supplied, although he stressed it was a “long-term” issue.

Earlier on Wednesday, during a historic address to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, Mr Zelenskiy asked the British to give his nation “wings for freedom” in the form of fighter jets to help its defence against the Russian invasion. Western nations have so far baulked at giving Ukraine warplanes for fear of stoking a wider conflict with Russia.

The British government announced on Wednesday that it would train Ukrainian pilots on Nato-standard aircraft. An official account from Downing Street of a meeting between Mr Sunak and Mr Zelenskiy said the Ukrainian president thanked the British leader for putting his nation “on the path to Nato-standard air combat capabilities” and also for promising to provide “long range weapons”.

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The two leaders also signed a joint agreement, the London Declaration, in which they said Ukraine would receive “more advanced capabilities” for its military battle with Russia.

Britain also announced further sanctions against Russian powerbrokers and organisations.

Mr Sunak said on Wednesday evening that “nothing is off the table” in talks with Ukraine about providing military hardware, and jets were “part of a conversation”. Britain has so far provided almost £4 billion (€4.5 billion) of aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion that began last year, including £2.3 billion of military aid.

Following his surprise one-day visit to London, during which he also met King Charles, Mr Zelenskiy left the British capital after 7pm for a meeting in Paris with French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz.