LONDON, March 6 (MENA) - The US is working with Warsaw on a deal to provide Ukraine with Polish fighter jets as Kyiv ratchets up the pressure on the west to boost its air force capabilities so it can repel Russian attacks, reported The Financial Times of Sunday.
The deal would involve Ukraine receiving Russian-made warplanes from Poland, which would in turn be given F-16s by the US, the paper said. It comes amid fears Russia will increase air strikes given the slow progress of parts of its ground campaign, it added.
The White House said it was negotiating with Poland and consulting other Nato allies but that there were “a number of challenging practical questions, including how the planes could actually be transferred from Poland to Ukraine,”said the paper.
A Polish official said: “Poland is not in a state of war with Russia, but it is not an impartial country, because it supports Ukraine as the victim of aggression. It considers, however, that all military matters must be a decision of NATO as a whole,” according to the paper.
The deal emerged following a day of intense pressure from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and his foreign minister, who both said that if NATO would not institute a no-fly zone over the country then it should provide its air force with fighter jets, it said.
The Financial Times reported earlier on Saturday that Zelensky had made an emotional plea for the US to give Poland and other eastern European allies F-16 fighter jets, enabling those countries to then send Russian-made warplanes to Ukraine, added the paper.
Ukrainian pilots need Russian-made aircraft because those are the systems they have been trained to fly, according to the paper.