UK revives proposal to get Soviet-era fighters to Ukraine

Опубликовано: Friday, 24 February 2023 08:49

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says UK could ‘backfill’ for eastern European allies if they send older planes to Ukraine.

LONDON — The U.K. is pushing for the West to supply modern fighter jets to eastern European allies so that they can donate their own Soviet-era planes to Ukraine.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Friday this would allow Ukraine to receive more MiG 29 or Su-24 fighters to defend against Russian aggression.

But, speaking on Sky News, he stressed the U.K. would not be sending its own Typhoon jets “in the short-term” to Ukraine, amid concerns Britain does not have many to spare.

Kyiv had lobbied the West to receive fourth-generation fighter jets such as the U.S.-made F-16s, but its allies have so far been reluctant to supply those, amid concerns of further escalation and technical barriers including the need to build longer runaways in Ukraine and the length of the training programs for Ukrainian jet pilots.

Speaking to Times Radio on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Wallace said: “The other quick way that Ukraine can benefit from fighter jets is for those countries in Europe that have Russian Soviet fighter jets — MiG 29s or Su-24s — if they wish to donate, we can use our fighter jets to backfill and provide security for them as a result, or indeed to backfill to allow them to have their own capability because they are already configured to fight in a NATO way, where of course Ukraine isn’t.”

Asked if eastern European allies supported his idea, Wallace noted Poland had already suggested gifting MiG 29s.

“The point here is that from a leadership point of view the U.K. has offered, in the same way that the United States have on some other types of equipment, that if [Eastern European allies] wish to do that, and are worried about your security as a result of it, we can come and backfill to help support that,” he said.

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