Ukraine’s call for a “fighter jet coalition” to provide planes so its forces can firmly control its airspace was on life support Tuesday after Britain apparently rejected the plan.
Also Tuesday, Ukraine mourned the death in combat of a former US Navy Seal, France promised to send more howitzers, and a Ukraine newspaper found evidence of over-the-top profiteering by European weapons dealers.
Max Blain, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said sending jets to Ukraine was not practical because his country’s Typhoon and F-35 fighter jets “are extremely sophisticated and take months to learn how to fly.”
Poland, Estonia and the Baltic nations expressed support for Ukraine’s plan, however. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Ukraine needs fighter jets and “we need to act.”
A day earlier, President Joe Biden rejected the proposal, as did German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. France, however, has not ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine under conditions that would bar Kyiv from attacking Russian territory, President Emmanuel Macron said Monday. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte agreed that discussing transfer of jets should be discussed but that it would be a “very big next step.”
Ukraine currently relies on old, Soviet-era jets.
►The International Ice Hockey Federation said Tuesday that it will prioritize safety concerns when deciding whether to allow Russia and Belarus in next year’s world championships. Both are banned this year, but the International Olympic Committee is working on a plan allowing both nations to compete at next year’s Paris Games.
►France said it will send 12 more truck-mounted howitzers to Ukraine. The French military also said 150 of its soldiers would train 2,000 Ukrainian troops in Poland this summer.
►Human Rights Watch has called on Ukraine to investigate its use of land mines around Izium during the Russian occupation. Russian use of land mines does not justify Ukrainian use of these prohibited weapons, said Steve Goose, the group’s Arms Division director.
Ex-Navy SEAL Daniel Swift mourned in Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers held a memorial ceremony Tuesday for American Daniel Swift in Lviv, Ukraine. The former US Navy SEAL who went AWOL in 2019 was killed last week in Ukraine in fighting with the Russian army.
Adam Thiemann – a former US Army Ranger who previously fought in Ukraine – told Rolling Stone that during an operation in Bakhmut on the night of Jan. 14 and into the early morning of Jan. 15, Russian forces launched an anti-personnel rocket-propelled grenade at Swift and two other soldiers. Swift later died of his wounds.
Report: European arms dealers jacked up prices for Ukraine
European arms brokers drive prices up and charge excessive commissions when supplying arms to Ukraine, according to an investigation by the Kyiv Independent and other media outlets. The report alleges that the Estonian company Bristol Trust OÜ received about $2 million, or 30% of the deal, in commission for 12,500 grenades for shoulder-fired missile launchers last March. The report says the commission was three to six times the industry average.
Multiple arms brokers who spoke to the Independent on conditions of anonymity said they had raised prices for arms two to four times since Russia invaded Ukraine because of increased demand.
Ukraine expects up to 140 tanks in the ‘first wave’ of contributions
Ukraine will obtain 120 to 140 modern tanks in the first wave of contributions from the West, Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday. Kuleba did not say when the tanks, including German-made Leopards, British Challengers and US Abrams, would arrive.
The Ukraine military has suggested that the first tanks could arrive from Norway by the end of March. Norway owns 36 Leopard tanks but has not said how many it will send to Ukraine. Germany has said it hopes to begin transferring more than a dozen tanks to Ukraine by early April.
Kuleba said the tank donor coalition currently includes about a dozen countries and that Ukraine is trying to persuade more countries to join the group – and to get increased commitments from those already on board.
Contributing: The Associated Press