The United Kingdom is willing to replenish stocks of any country willing to send Russian or Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Friday as Poland announced that it has delivered the first round of NATO tanks into the country.
As the war in Ukraine looks to be on the precipice of escalating as it passes the one-year mark since Russian troops marched into the former Soviet state, Ben Wallace said that the government has ruled out sending Bririth Typhoon fighter jets into the conflict zone, however, he stated the the UK would be willing to “backfill” any shipments of older Russian or Soviet Union-era jets to Ukraine from Eastern European nations.
In an interview with Times Radio, the defence secretary 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.”
Noting that Poland has already offered to supply Ukraine with Mig 29s, Wallace added: “The point here is that from a leadership point of view the UK 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.”
In an interview with Sky News, Wallace said that the UK will not be sending any of their own Typhoon fighter jets to Ukraine in the “short term” given that Ukrainina soldiers and engineers are not trained to manage the advanced systems required to operate and maintain such jets and therefore would require hundreds of Royal Air Force personel to be deployed into the region, which Wallace said the British government is unwilling to do at this stage of the war.
UK Defence Secretary Warns ‘War is Coming’ to Britain, Demands More Military Spendinghttps://t.co/Hx8AqekbJw
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 24, 2023
While the government is appaperntly unwilling to send in advanced war planes, despite demands from the likes of former leaders Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that the UK plans on being the first NATO country to supply Kyiv (Kiev) with “longer range weapons”, with the 150-mile range Harpoon high-explosive anti-ship missile and the 350-mile range deep penetration Storm Shadow cruise missile being reported as the prime candidates under consideration.
It has already been suggested that such long range missiles could be used by the Ukrainians to wage attacks on the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014, and the recapture of which has been a chief military goal of the Zelensky government. On Friday, defence analysists speaking to The Telegraph, the broadsheet most closely tied with the governing Conservative Party in Britain, suggested that the Storm Shadow cruise missiles, in particular, could be used to “disrupt the Russian Navy”.
“The Storm Shadow opens up access to a range of logistics targets not least across the south, dramatically complicating the task for Russian air defenders,” Justin Crump, of the intelligence and geopolitical risk firm Sibylline told the paper. “If nothing else, this will force them further to scatter their supply lines and reconsider how best to defend against the threat.”
Meanwhile, on Friday Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that the first round of Western tanks arrived in Ukraine, in the form of four Leopard battle tanks. Sweden has also announced that it is planning on sending “around” 10 Leopard 2 tanks as well as anti-air defence systems to the country.
Escalation: UK to Become First State to Hand Ukraine ‘Longer Range Weapons’ Says PM Sunak https://t.co/W4pBcHQcD5
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 19, 2023
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka