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Zelensky Appeal to EU Leaders: Ukraine Needs Jets to Fight Russia

UKraine Russia
President Zelensky arrives at the EU Council meeting. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday thanked EU leaders for their support in countering Russia’s invasion but urged them to supply even more weaponry, including fighter jets.

During a speech at the European Council in Brussels, Zelensky said: “I am grateful to all of you who are helping, grateful to everyone who understands how much Ukraine right now needs these possibilities. We need artillery guns, shells for them, modern tanks, long-range missiles, modern aircraft.”

“We need to strengthen the dynamics of our cooperation more powerfully than the aggressor can mobilize its potential,” he added.

Having won promises of western battle tanks in recent weeks, Ukraine is now focused on trying to secure the supply of longer-range rockets and fighter jets.

French president, Emmanuel Macron, said Paris would “continue the efforts” to deliver arms to Kyiv, adding that France was determined to help Ukraine towards “victory, peace and Europe”.

“Russia cannot and must not win,” he said, adding that “the future of Europe” was at stake in Ukraine. The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said it was clear that Moscow would not win, and assured Ukraine its future was in the EU, saying Ukraine was part of the “European family”.

“Putin will not achieve his goals – not on the battlefield and not through a dictated peace.”

Debate on providing fighter jets for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has ruled out sending advanced fourth-generation fighter jets to Ukraine. On Monday, when asked by reporters whether he would send F-16s to Ukraine, he simply said “no.”

The UK has shown similar hesitancy. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that training Ukrainian pilots to operate “extremely sophisticated” fourth and fifth-generation multi-role combat aircraft like Eurofighter Typhoons and the F-35s would take too long and is “not practical”.

Earlier, Zelensky addressed the EU Parliament and underlined his desire for Ukraine to join the European Union. “This is our Europe, these are our rules, this is our way of life. And for Ukraine, it’s a way home, a way to its home,” Zelensky said.

“We have your back,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told Zelensky. “Ukraine is Europe and your nation’s future is in the European Union,” said Metsola. “We will be with you for as long as it takes,” she said.

Ukraine: Russia plans a major offensive

Earlier in February Ukraine claimed Russia plans a massive offensive with 500,000 troops to coincide with the first anniversary of its invasion.

Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov said Moscow had amassed thousands of troops and could “try something” to mark the anniversary of the initial invasion last year. The attack would also mark Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day on 23 February, which celebrates the army.

Reznikov said Moscow had mobilized some 500,000 troops for the potential offensive.

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