During a visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Warsaw on Wednesday - the first such since the Russian invasion began - he encouraged Poland to lead the way in building a coalition which will send warplanes to the Ukrainian military.
"Just as your (Polish) leadership proved itself in the tank coalition, I believe that it will manifest itself in the planes coalition," Zelensky said, also emphasizing that together both Poland and Ukraine can defend the whole of Europe.
"Poland, with you, shoulder to shoulder, we will establish freedom in Europe forever. Tyranny will lose in history when it loses in Ukraine," Zelensky said.
He hinted at waning enthusiasm for the Ukrainian cause among Western backers, saying further, "Because this is a battle for freedom and it is impossible to win partially."
Zelensky is pressing for Poland to grow bolder on fighter jets because it was previously successful in lobbying Western allies on sending tanks. So far, Washington has resisted sending the sought after F-16s, but has generally been supportive of Poland transferring Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters jets.
But with the example of tanks, Poland had been the first nation to pledge it would send German-made Leopard tanks for Ukraine. This added pressure on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and got the ball rolling, eventually leading to both Germany and the US approving main battle tanks.
President Biden has meanwhile ruled out sending F-16s to Ukraine "for now" - with the prevailing thinking being that it would unnecessarily escalate the conflict, leading to a direct clash between Russia and NATO.
Polish President Andrzej Duda did announce readiness to donate more MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, and also pushed the issue of NATO membership, saying that 'security guarantees' should be on the table.
Speaking in front of a large crowd in Warsaw today, Zelensky stated that Poland had been successful in assembling an international Leopard tank coalition for Ukraine.— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) April 5, 2023
He added he is certain Poland will also succeed in creating an F-16 coalition.
"I believe that we will succeed in obtaining guarantees [for Ukraine] as a prelude to Ukraine’s future membership in full in the North Atlantic Alliance," Duda said.
Duda announced that Poland is willing to donate further MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, while ahead of their talks Zelensky was awarded Poland’s highest honour, the Order of the White Eagle.