Ukraine renews invitations for US F-16s and German fighter jets after countries reverse decision to send tanks
Ukrainian officials renewed calls for United States and Germany to supply them with fighter jets in their ongoing battle with Russia after the two Western allies reversed their decision to supply tanks.
The US and Germany had previously said they would not send the armored fighting vehicles, but reversed the decision after further negotiations, eventually agreeing to send more than 30 Abrams M1 tanks and 14 Leopard 2 tanks, respectively.
Ukrainian officials are now engaged in “fast-track” talks on long-range missiles and warplanes, a top aide to Ukraine’s president said on Saturday.
Mihailo Podoliak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Ukraine’s supporters in the West “understand how the war is going” and the need for aircraft capable of providing cover for the tanks they have promised to send.
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Podolyak said some of Ukraine’s Western partners maintain a “conservative” attitude toward sending advanced weapons “due to fear of changes in the international architecture.”
“We have to work with it. We need to show (our partners) the real picture of this war,” Podoliak said in remarks to the Freedom online video channel. “We need to talk sense and tell them, for example, ‘This and this will reduce deaths, this will reduce the burden on infrastructure. It will reduce threats to the security of the European continent, it will keep the war localized.’ And we are doing it.”
Podoljak did not name partner countries.
Russia, which received its own weapons and supplies from China, North Korea and Iran, accused the West of providing Kyiv with increasingly sophisticated weapons. Russian officials say supplying Ukraine with arms constitutes “direct involvement”.
Germany and the United States announced on Wednesday that they will send advanced battle tanks along with Bradley and Marder vehicles to Ukraine and train Ukrainian troops to use them in a bid to help Kyiv break the stalemate.
The decision was met with groans and criticism from the Kremlin, which continues to criticize Western interference.
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German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Ukrainian troops will learn how to operate German-made Leopard 2 tanks at a training base in Germany by the end of the month.
Ministry of Defense of Ukraine took to Twitter on Wednesday to celebrate the start of training.
Zelensky also thanked the US for military aid.
“Thank you @POTUS for another powerful decision to grant Abrams to [Ukraine]. Thanks to [the U.S.] people to support the leadership!” he wrote on Wednesday. “This is an important step on the road to victory. Today, the free world is united as never before for a common goal – the liberation of [Ukraine].”
“We’re moving forward,” he added.
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In another tweet, he wrote: “German main battle tanks, further expansion of defense support and training missions, green light for partners to supply similar weapons. I just heard about these important and timely decisions in a conversation with [German chancellor] Olaf Scholz. Sincerely grateful.”
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The Russian-Ukrainian invasion will be one year old next month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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