West News Wire: After a rare two-day trip outside of Ukraine to look for additional weapons from the West, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that numerous European allies had pledged to give Kyiv fighter jets.
“Europe will support us all the way to triumph. The willingness to provide us with the required weaponry and equipment, including the aircraft, has been expressed to me by a number of European politicians, Zelenskyy told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.
We are going to bring up the problem of the fighter jets and other aircraft, he said. “I have a number of bilaterals currently.
The pledges, if confirmed, would represent one of the largest swings in Western backing for Ukraine to date. The leader of Ukraine did not provide any other information about them.
There was no immediate confirmation from any European countries of the alleged promises.
Zelenskyy had earlier received rapturous applause and cheers from the European Parliament and met a summit of the European Union’s 27 leaders, insisting in a showpiece address that his country’s fight with Russia was one for the freedom of all of Europe.
To date, Ukraine’s Western backers have refused to send fighter jets to Kyiv amid fears of potentially escalating the war or becoming further embroiled themselves in the conflict.
Moscow has repeatedly warned it will retaliate against any such moves and lead to World war.
But the mood appeared to have begun to shift during Zelenskyy’s European tour, which began on Wednesday with trips to London and Paris.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged during the Ukrainian president’s visit that the United Kingdom would provide training for Ukrainian pilots on modern NATO combat aircraft.
A spokesman for Sunak’s government also said it was weighing whether to send Ukraine fighter jets in the “long-term”.
There were no such commitments from France and Germany later on Wednesday, but Paris is reported to be among a number of European capitals that is open to the prospect of sending jets to Ukraine as part of a collective Western decision.
The developments drew a furious response from Russia, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warning it would be Ukrainians who suffered if the UK or other Western countries supplied combat aircraft to Kyiv.
“The line between indirect and direct involvement is gradually disappearing. One can only express regret in this regard, and say that such actions lead to an escalation of tension, prolong the conflict and make the conflict more and more painful for Ukraine,” Peskov said on Thursday.