Ukrainian Defense Minister in France Amid Push for Fighter Jets


The prospect of supplying Ukraine with fighter jets was expected to be on the agenda Tuesday as Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov visited Paris for talks with French leaders.

Ukrainian officials have called on their Western allies to send the jets in order to better respond to a Russian invasion, but so far those calls have been met with wariness.

When asked by reporters if France would consider sending fighter jets to Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that “nothing is excluded” but laid out multiple conditions before such a step could be taken. Those included that the equipment would not touch Russian soil, would not lead to an escalation of tensions and would not “weaken the capacities of the French army.”

In the United States, as President Joe Biden arrived at the White House on Monday, reporters asked if he would provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Biden responded, “No.”

Ukraine won a boost last week when the United States and Germany both promised to send tanks to Ukraine, after Germany hesitated for weeks over sending its advanced Leopard 2 tanks.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hinted Monday at the prospect of more upcoming pledges of military support for Ukraine, saying that “any activity aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s defense powers is under consultation with our NATO partners.”

Japan, South Korea

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed the wider potential effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he visited Japan on Tuesday, saying “what is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow.”

“If President Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force,” Stoltenberg told reporters at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. “Beijing is watching closely and learning lessons that may influence its future decisions.”

Stoltenberg also welcomed Japanese sanctions against Russia and “significant support for Ukraine.”

His visit to Japan came a day after he called for South Korea to send direct military support to Ukraine. The Seoul government is a growing arms exporter and has a well-equipped, U.S.-backed military.

Asked about the possibility of that support Tuesday, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup told reporters in Seoul after meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that “we are directing our close attention to the situation of Ukraine.”

Source: Voice of America