Ukraine: Ben Wallace quizzed on whether UK will send fighter jets
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Vladimir Putin is facing a crisis as NATO is poised to wade into the Ukraine war. Western allies are currently weighing up whether to step up their involvement in the conflict by sending jets to the warzone, with world leaders meeting in Munich for a global security conference over the weekend. Speaking at the conference, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak lent his support to Ukraine, saying the UK stands “ready to support all allies if they can provide fighter jets to Ukraine now”.
He said the UK was already “leading” on training Ukrainian fighter jet pilots, calling for allies to “double down” in support.
Defence analyst Nicholas Drummond said that fighter jets would “allow Ukrainian armed forces to decimate Russia on the ground”, as it would give Kyiv air superiority.
This comes as Putin faces a crisis on three fronts, Mr Drummond said, warning that the Russian President is “running out of human resources, material and cash”.
Just days ago, Defence Minister Ben Wallace warned that 95 percent of the Russian army is in Ukraine.
But Mr Drummond said the addition of fighter jets would make the situation for Putin even worse. He said the aircraft would be “pivotal” for the Ukrainian war effort.
There is concern in Westminster that sending fighter jets to the warzone could escalate the conflict but Ukraine is continually pleading for air support.
Giving an address in Westminster Hall last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presented Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle with a Ukrainian fighter pilot’s helmet as a symbolic gift for what the war effort needed.
He added: “In your country, your King (Charles III) is an airforce pilot, in my country airforce pilots are kings.”
Former PM Boris Johnson quickly came out in support of the move, saying “there is no reason” that the aircraft cannot be supplied to Ukraine.
But Mr Drummond said fear of retaliation from Putin is what “colours all of the discussion” among NATO members behind closed doors.
The expert said the UK’s policy so far has been “just enough, just in time” in an attempt to avoid escalation.
He added: “We don’t want Ukraine to run out (of weapons) but at the same time, Putin could suddenly turn round and attack a NATO country.
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“He could decide to attack Poland because they were directly supporting Ukraine and claim it was a justified retaliation. If something like that happens, then all bets are off.”
The UK is currently training Ukrainian pilots to fly British jets but is waiting to see what Russia does next before sending the equipment, the Daily Express understands.
There is also concern in Westminster that sending fighter jets to the warzone could escalate the conflict but Ukraine is continually pleading for air support.
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