France 'Open' To Sending Fighter Jets To Ukraine While UK Says "Not Practical"
Here we go again... French President Emmanuel Macron in Monday comments signaled openness to sending Ukraine advanced fighter jets, something which Kiev has broadly asked its allies for since nearly the start of the Russian invasion.
"Nothing is excluded in principle," Macron said immediately following talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when pressed by reporters about the question of fighter jets for Ukraine. The Dutch premier himself had weighed in too saying, "There is no taboo but it would be a big step." But he noted, "It is not at all a question of F-16s, there has been no demand (from Ukraine)."
Macron added that the French "are not making this request at the moment for fighter jets" - in what appears a first confirmation that the Ukrainian government has not yet gone through with a formal ask. Macron's fresh remarks, however, are likely to be seen from Kiev as an invitation to proceed with a formal request, while will putting more pressure on Paris and the Western alliance. Ukrainian officials have long been going through Poland, it seems, to press the jet issue with NATO command in Brussels.
Macron stipulated that jets for Ukraine must "not be escalatory" - meaning that they would "not be likely to hit Russian soil but purely to aid the resistance effort." But obviously advanced fighters would be escalatory by the very nature of sending them after Moscow has reiterated its "red lines".
As for the rest of Europe, on the same day that the White House said that it would not be sending jets, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it would not be practical.
"The UK’s … fighter jets are extremely sophisticated and take months to learn how to fly. Given that, we believe it is not practical to send those jets into Ukraine," a spokesperson for the British prime minister told reporters. "We will continue to discuss with our allies about what we think what is the right approach."
Indeed given training on the Abrams M1 tank could take at minimum six months, something as sophisticated as Western-made fighter jets could take years for pilots unfamiliar with their systems to get combat ready on. Germany too has issued a firm "no" amid mounting pressure from Ukraine for jets.
Meanwhile it's no surprise that the European country pressing the hardest to send jets continues to be Poland. Warsaw has been pressing the rest of NATO to transfer jets since the opening months of the war.
On Monday Polish officials expressed readiness to send US-made F-16s to Ukraine, but emphasized it would only do so in coordination with NATO. "We will act in full coordination here," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.
Since he started lobbying for F-16 deployments so quickly, is it rude to point out that Admiral Stavridis is a Managing Director of the Carlyle Group, whose recent acquisitions include StandardAero, a global defense contractor that provides maintenance services for F-16 engines https://t.co/pgdBROIywf— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 30, 2023
A spokesman for the Ukrainian presidency's office, Andrii Yermak, posted a statement to Telegram saying "Work on obtaining F-16 fighters continues. We have positive signals from Poland, which is ready to pass them on to us in coordination with NATO."
The Ukrainian official then aimed his statement at Moscow, stressing provocatively that "Tanks, fighter jets — a great combination for turning Russian enemies into fertilizer."