Ukraine urges US to ship warplanes to Poland and different allies

President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Washington to offer Poland and different japanese European allies with American plane that will then allow these international locations to ship Russian-made army planes to Ukraine.

In a name with virtually 300 US lawmakers, Zelensky made an emotional plea for assist and stated Ukraine badly wanted extra plane, significantly after Nato determined in opposition to making a no-fly zone as a result of it might threat a broader battle with Russia, based on folks aware of the decision.

Zelensky requested the US to offer Poland and three different Nato international locations with US plane that will permit them as much as then ship Russian-made plane to Ukraine, the folks stated. Ukrainian pilots want Russian-made plane since these are the methods they’ve been educated to fly.

Washington is working to offer extra assist to Ukraine and this week began sending anti-aircraft stinger missiles — the identical weapon that the US supplied the Mujahedeen to repel the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. However Ukraine has burdened that it wants plane to repel Russia within the air.

One US lawmaker who took half within the name stated Zelensky had expressed appreciation for the stingers, however stated they had been inadequate as a result of they weren’t capable of fly excessive sufficient to take out a number of the Russian plane.

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Whereas the US and allies have equipped a spread of weapons to Ukraine, they’re frightened that Vladimir Putin would view the supply of warplanes as a giant escalation that he would possibly interpret as Nato successfully coming into the battle in opposition to Russia.

Ukraine stated some japanese European nations had agreed to offer fighter jets, however the claims had been denied. Polish president Andrzej Duda stated sending planes can be tantamount to interfering within the battle.

A senior US defence official stated the Pentagon had not been “actively entertaining” the concept of sending US air pressure planes to Nato allies to allow them to ship their very own warplanes to Ukraine. However one particular person aware of the scenario contained in the administration stated the US could also be reevaluating its earlier opposition to the concept.

One other particular person aware of the talk stated US officers had advised Poland and different japanese European allies that it was their resolution whether or not they wished to ship Russian-made plane to Ukraine. The White Home didn’t remark.

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Brendan Boyle, a Philadelphia Democratic congressman who participated within the zoom name, advised the Monetary Instances that there was broad bipartisan assist in Congress to seek out inventive options. He pointed to the instance of the US passing the Lend-Lease Act in the course of the second world conflict to make it simpler to offer international locations with conflict provides and weapons.

“We now have to start out taking a look at analogies to the Lend-Lease Act by way of a 2022 model of it for Ukraine,” Boyle stated. “There may be widespread bipartisan assist in Congress and likewise common American assist for doing every little thing we will to arm the Ukrainians. Politically talking, this can be a comparatively simple raise.”

Chuck Schumer, the highest Senate Democrat, stated that Zelensky had made a “determined plea” for japanese European international locations to offer Russian-made planes.

Zelensky reminded the group {that a} no-fly zone was his high precedence however that he wished extra plane if that was not attainable.

Ben Sasse, a Republican senator, stated a no-fly zone would imply sending US pilots into fight in opposition to Russia in a “battle between nuclear powers that might spiral uncontrolled rapidly.” However he stated Washington ought to provide Ukraine with plane, helicopters and drones.

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“Let’s resupply Ukraine’s air pressure right this moment and hold the Ghosts of Kyiv within the skies,” Sasse stated, referring to unconfirmed tales of a Ukrainian pilot who had downed a number of Russian planes.

A senior US defence official on Friday stated the Pentagon had supplied Ukraine with $240mn in army help from the $350mn President Joe Biden not too long ago permitted. She stated the remaining $110mn would seemingly arrive in Ukraine over the following week and that the administration was working with Congress to safe extra funds.

One lawmaker who participated within the name stated there was a unified sense that Zelensky was a “world hero”.

Zelensky opened the decision with a 20-minute plea for extra US assist. However at one level throughout his emotional presentation, he paused to ask one of many American lawmakers to mute themselves.

“Senator Rick Scott, please mute your mic,” stated the Ukrainian chief who was wearing his customary T-shirt, based on one particular person on the decision.

Further reporting by James Shotter

Comply with Demetri Sevastopulo and Stefania Palma on Twitter 

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