Britain’s Defense Minister Ben Wallace on Wednesday said that it’s the correct decision “for now” not to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
“What they need right now is armor and tanks,” Wallace told reporters when asked why the UK would not send jets, pointing to the UK’s commitment to send Challenger 2 tanks to support Kyiv’s troops.
“I’ve been involved in this for a pretty long time and I’ve learned two things: never rule anything in and never rule anything out,” he said.
Wallace acknowledged this was “not a solid decision,” but added, “for now, I don’t think that’s the right approach.”
“What’s going to move on this conflict this year is going to be the ability for the Ukrainians to deploy Western armor against Russia,” he continued.
Some background: Top Ukrainian officials have been jockeying for US-made F-16 fighter jets, arguing they need them urgently to defend against Russian missile and drone attacks.
The defense minister’s comments come after a Downing Street spokesperson told journalists Tuesday that fighter jets are “extremely sophisticated and take months to learn how to fly,” adding it was “not practical” to supply them to Ukraine.
On Wednesday, former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined Kyiv in its calls for the jets to be sent to Ukraine during a visit to Washington, DC.
“All I will say is that every time we have said it will be a mistake to give such and such an item of weaponry, we end up doing it and it ends up being the right thing for Ukraine,” Johnson told Fox News.
“Save time, save money, save lives. Give the Ukrainians what they need as fast as possible,” he continued.
Following Johnson’s comments, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson noted Johnson was “acting in his own capacity and not on behalf of the UK government,” Britain’s PA news agency reported.
CNN’s Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting to this post.
edition.cnn.com 2023-02-01 23:18:33