Russian president, Vladimir Putin has threatened a ‘response’ involving ‘military-political consequences’ if the UK supplies planes to Ukraine in the fight against Russian forces.
President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday February 8, made his first visit to Britain since the outbreak of the invasion last year, warning that the war could ‘stagnate’ if NATO jets are not given to Ukraine.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, speaking at a joint press conference, responded to his plea by admitting ‘nothing is off the table’ when pushed on providing aircraft before stressing that Britain will now start preparing the Ukrainian air force.
But Moscow has threatened a ‘response’ if the Government does supply planes.
The Russian Embassy in London strongly warned the UK against supplying the warplanes, saying Britain would bear responsibility ‘for another twist of escalation and the ensuing military-political consequences for the European continent and the entire world’.
Britain has offered to train Ukrainian fighter pilots on top of an existing programme that has already prepared 10,000 troops for battle.
‘Of course they are part of the conversation’, he admitted, but held back from giving a concrete commitment to provide fighter planes.
Mr Zelensky said fighter jets had been discussed and reiterated his call for longer-range missiles.
He is due to meet EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday.
Pushed on whether the UK would provide jets, Rishi Sunak said ‘nothing is off the table’ and stressed Britain is now going to start preparing the Ukrainian air force
While the UK operates F-35 and Typhoon jets, the older F-16s widely used by other Nato states have been seen as a better option and easier to deploy on the current battlefield.
However, a UK decision to offer planes would be symbolically important and put pressure on other countries to follow suit.
Mr Zelensky said: ‘You’ve just asked me what would happen if we don’t get these fighter jets or longer-range missiles, or we don’t have enough ammunition, because everything obviously is running out and coming out of maintenance.
‘Without the weapons that we are discussing now and the weapons that we just discussed with Rishi earlier today and how Britain is going to help us, you know, all of this is very important. Without this, there would be stagnation which will not bring to anything good.’